Twitter User. Is That An Oxymoron?

Attention you would-be tweeps and tweeple. You talk a good game, but you don’t tweet one. In fact, you don’t tweet at all.

Half of all those registered on Twitter have not tweeted once. Half of those registered have no followers. Half follow no one. Nine percent of Twitter’s estimated 5-6 million registered users (the company doesn’t provide numbers) are considered inactive, having fewer then 10 followers, friends and updates.

If that’s the case — and a new report from Hubspot on the State of the Twittersphere says it is — then who’s doing all the tweeting?

Certainly not gray-haired executives at the top of the corporate food chain. ClickZ, reporting on yet another study, says only 3 percent of over-50 C-levels tweet. But if they’re under 40, then 56 percent of them tweet or microblog.

So it must be Gen Y doing the tweeting? Not so fast. Yet another study, this one released during June’s TWTRCON 2009 in San Francisco, says only 22 percent of the 18-24 year olds in the U.S. are on Twitter. Yet, says that same study, virtually all Gen Yers have a profile on Facebook, MySpace, or other social network.

Conducted for the Participatory Marketing Network by the Lubin School of Business’ Interactive and Direct Marketing Lab at Pace University, the study also showed that those who do use Twitter follow friends, celebrities, and family. Only 29 percent follow companies, which, if you do the math, is 6 percent of Gen Y. Kind of takes some of the air out of the Twitter-as-an-employer-branding opportunity.

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That brings us back to the question of who is tweeting? The Hubspot report doesn’t tell us, though the company’s Twitter Grader does offer a curious list of the Twitter elite, those posters with the largest following and, consequently, big volumes of tweets. The New York Times, ESPN, Fox News, Huffington Post, and the occasional Guy Kawasaki make up the bulk of the 100 users.

The Hubsport report does tell us that the average active Twitter user  tweets only about once a day. And for every 10 followers they have, they follow eight. And, no surprise here but a good hint at what’s being tweeted, the volume of tweets is greatest on Thursdays and Fridays.

There are a few other interesting tidbits in the report that recruiters will find of value. For instance, if you expect to be able to easily get the background on your followers or on those you may follow, guess again; 76 percent of Twitter users have no bio and 69 percent don’t even say where they are.

Could it be Scott Weaver was on to something when he blogged, “I’m Bitter About Twitter?” The Nielsen people might think so. They say that 60 percent of all Twitter users don’t return after their first month.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

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