The psychology of Twitter – what turns people off (and on)

White Fire SEO recently held a poll on Twitter to find out more about how people use the service compared to other social networks. The results are interesting for the results that they show, although as White Fire don’t really share information on how many people answered the survey, I would look to the findings more as an indication of trends to be explored further, than a finite representation of Twitter users. What seemed most interesting to me, was the difference in how many updates people will tolerate before it’s deemed ‘oversharing’ and the split between different social networks. The results can be seen in full on the infographic :

35 is the magic number

The psychology of Twitter – what turns people off (and on)

As shown from the stats above, there is a magic number for sharing  too many tweets. 36 is deemed to be oversharing, which is actually higher than I thought it would be. Given that such a small minority of Twitter users make up the majority of content on there, is likely to be one of the main factors for the huge discrepancy between oversharing on Twitter and Facebook. While we can just about manage 35 updates per day on Twitter, we can only make do with  20 per day by someone on Facebook. I have plenty of friends on Facebook that update just as often as you would expect someone to on Twitter, but a clear differentiator is the size of networks we have on Facebook compared to Twitter. I have 250 friends on Facebook, but I follow 766 people on Twitter. Clearly, if one of those Facebook friends updates more often then their updates will appear to clog up my feed and I’m more likely to unfriend them, or hide their updates.

READ:  How Do The Manufacturers Equip A Vehicle To Make It More Secured For Personal Security?

There is a clear split in the pyschology of users on Facebook and Twitter. But it’s not so much that it’s across different users, but that we have to adopt a different pysche depending on the platform that we’re on. What we tolerate on Twitter, we might not tolerate on Facebook even just a matter of seconds later, switching between the networks. This is yet more evidence that as we use social media more and more, we develop our own sophisticated methods, as a society, for getting the most out of it and understanding what needs different platforms will serve.

What do we actually want?

The survey above contains great insights into how people use the platform, but I don’t feel it addresses the question of what we, as users, actually want to get out of Twitter. What is it that makes us keep logging in and communicating with others? The answer might not be what you’d expect. Again, though it can’t be considered as an exact representative, a recent study has just been published, that shows 73% of active users on Twitter have a goal of growing their following to increase their influence. So it’s not so much about what we can get out of it by following interesting people, but what we can give to others. In this sense, Twitter becomes more about the content we push out to others and how many people we’re reaching, than the use it serves to us.

73% seems, to me, quite high. Or it is a searingly honest answer by people who are willing to admit than the number on the side of their profile actually means quite a lot. But this isn’t just about kudos. It’s not about getting a high number so you look good to others, but how you can put that ‘number’ into action. Growing your influence so that when you have something important to tweet – a link to a product, a request etc.. it gets noticed. Influence is becoming more and more important across all social platforms, as users across the board are recognising that social media isn’t just about what we can learn from others and the connections that we build, but the purpose that it serves for ourselves. Some people learned this early on, and knew how to grow a following online that could be used to sell products (sometimes relentlessly) and now this awareness is spreading to users in the main.

READ:  I Just Bought A Used Car – Should I Change The Locks?

A word on Twitter rules

There is certainly no shortage of research on Twitter, because of the uniqueness of the platform, where everything is so public and trackable. But as I suggested above, these findings should always be taken with a pinch of salt. You don’t want to risk analytics overload after all. If you were to follow every single ‘finding’ published about Twitter then you would lead yourself down an endless path. There are rules for how many tweets, the type of tweets, time to tweet, who to tweet, how to tweet. Twitter is an organic platform and it really comes down to individual use and what you feel you are getting out of the platform. If you’re a brand and you’re publishing 50 updates a day about latest offers, but you’re getting genuine sales through this, then you don’t necessarily need to follow the findings above. There is a line to tread carefully as we get more and information about the psychology of social networks, the more information and data is built up over time. The first rule of Twitter is, and should always be… there are no rules.

Lauren Fisher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *