Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Why do YOU use Twitter?

After being on summer vacation for nearly 3 months (the lucky bastard), Spiral Scratch has returned to being an active blog. While it was sunning itself in the Bahamas, I decided to run another poll about Twitter. The poll initially arose from a disagreement between myself and Chris Abraham about whether there is a "right" use for Twitter.

The TwtPoll asked the question very simply: "I use Twitter for...."

The poll ran, roughly (because TwtPoll doesn't provide details) for about 10 days and closed on 9/4/09. 290 people participated and the poll info & link was ReTweeted 93 times (probably 10 times by me!) for which I am very, very grateful!

Multiple answers were possible because, frankly, I think most people use Twitter for a variety of purposes. And that assumption was born out by the results.

Of the 290 people who answered the poll, the percentage listed indicates the % of respondents who said they use Twitter for that particular activity:
  • 76% To learn new information/knowledge
  • 69% To meet new people I share common interests with
  • 47% To check during the day for news updates
  • 45% To share my expertise with others
  • 43% As a form of expression
  • 42% To remain connected to old & new friends or colleagues
  • 36% To kill time when I'm bored
  • 35% To generate business connections
  • 31% To get people interested in reading my blog
  • 29% To meet people or businesses in my local area
  • 24% As a personal diary of moments in my life (meetings or places)
  • 24% To promote my company (business use, not personal)
  • 16% To connect with worthwhile nonprofits, cultural institutions or charities
  • 14% Primarily to read other peoples' messages (I lurk a lot)
  • 13% Others (listed below)
  • 12% To keep track of celebrities and or VIPs in my field
Keeping in mind that this is not a scientific or random survey, one element that strikes me is the use of Twitter as a form of expression. I threw that option in because I thought some writers/artists might use the format of Twitter & its 140 character limitation as a creative outlet but I didn't expect it to rank so high.

It also seems like Twitter, at this stage, might be more a vehicle to meet NEW people than to stay in touch with old friends/colleagues although many people use it for both purposes. Despite what Twitter might say, it IS being used as a social network, both personally & professionally.

I also didn't anticipate that Twitter would be used to connect at a local level with new people & businesses since it is really a global network. I'd like to explore the use of Twitter as a way to connect with "neighbors" more at some point

My polling expectations were misplaced though in that I thought the business uses of Twitter would be the dominant use but that might be because of all of the "Twitter for Business" webinars I attend and because I follow a lot of consultants & entrepreneurs who use Twitter to raise their professional profile.

I also thought that the entertainment value from following famous singers or athletes would rank much higher but it was the lowest polling factor, even below the catchall "Other".

I came up with 15 possible uses for Twitter off the top of my head when I wrote up this poll. But, thankfully, many of you shared other ways you use it which had not occurred to me. "Other" reasons (both serious & humorous) that people shared included:
  • To stay involved with the latest tech advancements
  • To express anonymous frustrations and elations
  • To see how early people around the world wake up
  • To build community and serendipity
  • To be social
  • To have 'remote' shared experiences (e.g. viewing political debates, TV shows, sports events, etc.)
  • To meet people or businesses in the areas I'm going to travel to
  • To absorb company bandwidth
  • To keep my finger on the Internet's pulse
  • To participate in political discussions
  • To stay connected with family
  • I hope to do the same for those who follow me, as they either entertain or inform me
  • [It's] both personal and professional
  • To help others with inspiring tweets
  • To waste time
  • Develop links to educational sites for preservice teachers
  • Procrastination
  • To tie my shoes
  • Because it's fun!
  • To share/receive answers to questions
  • To get interesting links to pages/posts
  • To keep in touch with my customers
  • I retweet quite a bit as show of support & to keep interesting info from being buried
  • To publish my fiction writing
  • I follow people who create value for me
  • I work at home. It's my connection to the outside world
I greatly appreciate everyone who participated in this poll or who ReTweeted the link. I've learned a lot through reading over your responses & I thank you for taking the time.



Billy Blade said...

I stopped using Twitter about two months ago because I found it boring. I just could not get into
the moment to moment thoughts of

I very much enjoyed your writings but I could not find others of interest. Wish you the best

Bill Taylor

Neuro Aster (a.k.a. Jon Pear) said...

I'm one of the 31% ~ To get people interested in reading my blog :)

A man can dream, anyhow :)