Babbling on Twitter? Bring it on!

Research out today suggests that 40% of Twitter messages, or tweets, are “pointless babble”. US Researchers Pear Analytics sampled the Twitter stream (mostly of Americans) and categorized the tweets as news, spam, self-promotion, pointless babble, conversational and those with pass-along value.  They concluded that only 8.7% were of real value. One first wonders if the proportions would be the same for other forms of social media.

Of course, how they define “pointless babble” and “self-promotion” may not be the same as how you or I would define it. I certainly think that of my personal Twitter stream – the people I follow – there is very little pointless babble.  You would only put up with it if you were a very good friend, or, in the case of some of the people I follow, because as well as the “I’m on the train” and “I’m having a cup of coffee” tweets the people concerned also post very useful information and links that make it worthwhile putting up with a small amount of “babble”.

The thing about “babble” of course, is that it’s human.  Were you to have a conversation with anyone on the phone or face to face, there would be an element of conversational small-talk, and Twitter as a social space is no different.  A little bit of self-revealing shows you are a person and not just a brand, and allows you to show your personality, hopefully attractively! I follow people not because they are effective at online marketing but mostly because they are in the same field as myself, fellow professionals, and/or I am interested in their business for various reasons, and because they tweet about interesting projects or events, or blog posts, or share inspirational quotations, or tools, or ask and answer questions about everything from online applications to which phone should I get next (and those questions are often the materials for the “conversational” tweets).

And for people I want to hear from but who I can’t see regularly face to face, those bits and pieces of “pointless” information are the leavening in the serious flow of information that keeps me in touch. That’s what social networking is all about. Long live babble!

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