Twitter: from communication to content

Bookmark and Share

In 2010, Twitter positioned itself as "a network powered by people … around the world… that lets you share and discover what's happening now".  By 2012 this had shifted to "a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions…" and advises users to "follow the conversations" and states you don't have to tweet to gain value from Twitter.A study of 2500 non-commercial Twitter users sets out to discover how they are using Twitter and what motivates them to share content in an attempt to predict how Twitter will continue to evolve.  The authors (Olivier Toubia, Columbia Business School and Andrew T. Stephen, University of Pittsburgh) selected users at random and increased the number of their followers by using synthetic accounts.  They noticed that as the number of followers increased, account holders would increase the number of times they posted.  However this activity would slow down once a certain number of followers was reached.  They conclude that the profile of Twitter itself will continue to evolve from a communications vehicle to a content delivery vehicle.Conclusions

  • Fewer ‘everyday' people - the authors predict a slowdown of activity from ‘normal' users and a continued increase in commercial and celebrity activity.
  • Twitter will shift from a communications vehicle to a content delivery vehicle
  • The value non-commercial users get from Twitter will shift away from the production of content to the consumption of [commercial] content
  • First are likely to derive more value from Twitter by using it as a media channel to broadcast content to consumers rather than as a viral marketing platform
Originally published in Marketing Science, Intrinsic versus Image-Related Motivations in Social Media: Why do People Contribute to Twitter? was written by Olivier Toubia, Columbia Business School and Andrew T. Stephen, University of Pittsburgh. Download the full report.[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]