Just a few on Twitter do all the tweeting: study

Fri Jun 5, 2009 1:45am EDT
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By Erin Kutz

BOSTON (Reuters) - A tiny fraction of those who use the fast-growing social network phenomenon Twitter generate nearly all the content, a Harvard study shows.

That makes it hard for companies to use the micro-blogging site as an accurate gauge of public opinion, the Harvard Business School study showed.

Twitter Inc is a social networking website in which users post messages of 140 characters or less -- known as "tweets" -- that can be viewed by other users who elect to follow them.

The Harvard study examined public entries of a randomly selected group of 300,000 Twitter users. The researchers studied in May the content created in the lifetime of the users' Twitter accounts.

It found that 10 percent of Twitter users generated more than 90 percent of the content, said Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, who led the research. More than half of all Twitter users post messages on the site less than once every 74 days.

The median number of lifetime "tweets" per user is just one, according the research.

Companies are increasingly turning to Twitter to improve their understanding of how consumers view them, he said.

But some users are far more active and vocal than others, limiting information gleaned from messages on the site, said Piskorski, an assistant professor of strategy at Harvard Business School.   Continued...

<p>A screen grab of Twitter.com. REUTERS/www.twitter.com</p>