Debunking The "Twitter Is 40% Pointless Babble" Survey

Twitter 007I have seen this headline circulating over the last week on Twitter and the blogs and so I decided that  I would have a closer look at it.

 “Twitter Study Reveals Interesting results about Usage..40% are Pointless Babble” by Pear Analytics

Well this is my take on this “Headline” and its eye catching  emotive perspective. (by the way it is a good headline.. and it received a lot of attention and achieved great traction in social media mentions)

Guess what ..sounds like a normal share of typical “conversations” we have as human beings everyday.. some are deep and meaningful.. we pass some information along, we have some news to share and we also talk a bit about nothing in particular”


  • “Honey.. I am taking the dog for a walk”
  • “Hey..just popping down to the shop to get a paper”
  • “Went to gym tonite”
  • “Watched a great movie on the weekend”
  • Does my bum look big in this?

Isn’t Web 2.0 about 2 way conversations?.. comments.. passing on information, some news and hey maybe a bit of self promotion slips into the conversation from time to time.

So here are the statistics from the Twitter Pear Study, August 2009 

  • Total News 3.6%
  • Total Spam 3.75%
  • Total Self Promotion 5.75%
  • Total Pointless Babble 40.55%
  • Total Conversational 37.55%
  • Total Pass along Value 8.7%

Note: Notice the use of “Total”  why not use “News” instead of “Total News” It must have been written by marketing .. or was  it the PR Department?

So if we add together… News, Conversational, Pass Along and a bit of Self Promotion we have 56% of normal interesting and typical conversations on “Twitter” that would seem to closely parallel what we as normal human beings experience everyday.

What do you think?  “Is Twitter Dysfunctional?” or does it just reflect and mirror what we as humans experience as normal everyday?


  • Social Blender

    You know, I really think that there is a perception out there that Twitter is pointless. Just look at the most recent Verizon commercial. But, when used right, Twitter is a powerful tool used for connection and conversation.

  • Guan

    Agree with blogpost. Twitter is a conversation medium, still in its infancy, and it will have its share of good and bad stuff, just like normal life. There’s a simple remedy to this – UNFOLLOW! However, even in the banal items, I sometimes discover gems of information. It’s never predictable, but it keeps the Twitter stream interesting.

  • GlutenFreeDee

    Twitter is about BUILDING RELATIONSHIP. It’s about CONNECTING. It’s about RELATING TO OTHERS and SHARING INSIGHTS and EXPERTISE. It is tough to understand THE VAUE of these things of you DON’T VALUE these things. Especially difficult for analytical men. Thanks for getting it Jeff! Thanks for sharing this article with me!

  • Grant

    Concured Jeff, had the same thought whilst reading articles concerning the research

  • Sarah

    Note: Notice the use of “Total” why not use “News” instead of “Total News” It must have been written by marketing .. or was it the PR Department?

    It says “Total News” because they added up all the posts. If you look at the whitepaper, everything was broken down into half hour segments over 2 weeks. Hence, the need for Total, instead of partial.

  • Eric Miltsch


    There is undoubtedly a ton of noise in the public twitter stream.

    Efficient use of the twitter tools & apps available greatly reduces one’s exposure to this noise…whether its specific groups of top people within tweetdeck, seesmic & tweetgrid – or – managing your followers manually with twittter-karma, or even an automated program is recommended once your follower count begins to swell.

    Sticking with like minded people is the best remedy.

    As @guan mentioned – the unfollow (& block) option is always right at your finger tips.

    Plus, if you like the noise, there’s never a shortage of MLM’ers & celebrities who gladly fill up your stream with…well, whatever.

  • arida

    What is Twitter and How Can I Use Twitter?

  • Saville


    I really like this article, as it does hit the nail on the head. In every type of communication, there is that chatter, but our “role” as communicators, is to filter out the “what’s important”.

    Nice one.

  • Stephen Heath

    The complicated part about Twitter is clearing out the babble. As a small business owner, I have used Twitter heavily at times and have ignored it at others. The problem is that, when it comes down to it, I am an accountant, a writer, a consultant, a salesperson, a husband and a father. How do I make time for Twitter when 40%+ of what I am scrolling through IS pointless blabber, shameless self-promotion duplicated throughout my feed or news I don’t care about?

    I have, in the past, been very active and proactive in interacting with followers and have never received a new customer via Twitter. So, if I am to consider where my hours are best spent, with evidence that AT LEAST 40% of my time on Twitter is wasted (not to mention the rabbit trails it takes you down that, while interesting, will never make me money).

    I am not saying that NO ONE should use Twitter and that it isn’t very effective for some industries, but, for me, it is not the best use of my time.

  • Barbara Benham

    Chatter is the connective tissue.
    This is from August 2009, no?Why did such an ancient, at least in Twitter terms, study get revived this week?
    Even if a new study contained similar findings, it would not put the brakes on the current Twitter momentum.
    What percentage of ads shown during the Super Bowl contain meaningful content.
    The same rules of semiotics should apply to Twitter and all social media!