Yesterday a study was published that examined which Twitter users are posting the most widely-read tweets. The results weren’t really a surprise, finding that 50 percent “consumed” tweets are posted by just 0.05 percent of Twitter users. Considering folks like Lady Gaga and Ashton Kutcher attract millions of followers (9 million and 6.5 million each), it’s no shock that every tweet of theirs gets a lot more views than tweets by everyone else.
So while there is still a lot of chatter on Twitter – to the tune of a billion tweets a week – the majority of tweets receiving attention are coming from a select group of users that have massive followings but aren’t often following many people back. This type of Twitter handle is a media platform – a way to broadcast news and information to a large audience. But it’s not just media outlets with those types of handles…
Celebrities, athletes, musicians, politicians, companies, etc., all have those types of Twitter handles too, and it’s really their perfect media platform. Instead of worrying about how the media will portray them, they can craft their own tweets (messages) however they want, share only the information they want public, and self-promote without shame. Throw in some sponsored tweets for good measure, and it’s a money-making machine. (In May 2009 I wrote that Twitter was a popularity contest for celebrities. Almost two years later, my statement still rings true).
The evolution that Twitter has gone through, beginning as a small social network and becoming a giant media platform and RSS feed, is not a bad thing. We already have a monster social network in Facebook, and Twitter is a great way to get real-time news and information on any topic. It’s just important to understand that half of Twitter’s attention is going to a very, very small and select group of users that aren’t going to interact with you (and sometimes post a sponsored tweet that will pay them $10K).