Study: On Twitter, a minority of users are responsible for the majority of tweets

A study conducted by Pew Research revealed that 25% of American users on Twitter produced the vast majority of content on the social network. — AFP Relaxnews

Discussions on Twitter seem to never stop. However, a small minority of users are responsible for the majority of tweets. According to a study that looked at discussions on the social network in the United States, just 25% of users account for most tweets.

According to a Pew Research study, conducted from June 12 to September 12, 2021, 97% of messages on Twitter are posted by just 25% of users. The posting numbers of this very active minority on the platform demonstrates the influence that some users can have on social networks, as also pointed out by Facebook in March 2021.

For its study, Pew Research analysed 2,548 accounts of US-based users in May 2021: “The survey also included 1,026 respondents who volunteered a valid Twitter handle (their unique user name preceded by an “@” sign) for research purposes. This allowed the Center to analyse their responses to the survey based on their actual (observed) behaviors on the platform,” the report outlined.

A lack of originality on Twitter?

Behind this finding, the study points to a lack of originality in the content published by users on Twitter. Eighty-two percent of all users’ tweets are mostly replies or retweets and therefore do not consist of original messages. It should be noted, however, that the Pew Research study does not specify the percentage of retweets that include a comment from the user.

According to the results obtained, the most active users published only 14% of original tweets compared to a majority, 49%, of retweets: “Although the top 25% of users produced the overwhelming majority of tweets within the study period, original tweets made up just 14% of their posts. By contrast, roughly 80% of tweets from this group are either direct retweets (49%) or replies to other tweets (33%). Replies and retweets similarly make up the majority of posts from less active tweeters as well,” the study indicated.

A low level of engagement

Even so, increased production on Twitter does not necessarily mean a high engagement rate. According to the Pew Research study, a typical active user will produce an average of 65 tweets per month for which he or she will only get a single retweet and about 37 “likes” per month. A rather modest rate of engagement, as the study points out.

While among the American users surveyed, there were few who published content on Twitter, those who consult the application regularly are also in the minority. Ten percent of those surveyed said they go on Twitter so many times every day that they couldn’t count the exact number of visits; a percentage that rises to 20% among 18-29 year olds. The over-65s are the least regular users of the social network, with just 2% using it at this rate.

A source of entertainment and information, according to one’s age

So what do people do on Twitter? The majority of American users between 18 and 29 years old, 53%, say they use Twitter for entertainment, compared with just 28% of those over 50 years old. Meanwhile 25% of users aged 50 and over perceive the social network as a way to stay informed, while 15% of younger users agree with that statement. However, the entertainment aspect of Twitter remains the main reason why users of all age groups use the social network, at 42%.

Those aged 18-29 are also the most inclined at 62% to say that Twitter has helped them better understand current events. However, while the social network allows people to keep up to date with the latest news, the study notes that the “fake news” present on the platform is problematic: “the vast majority of Twitter users (91%) say they come across at least some inaccurate or misleading information on the platform. And 33% say they come across a lot of this sort of content.” – AFP Relaxnews

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