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Social Media

Twitter, the new zombieland?

In December 2012, twitter reached 200 million active users (vs. 100 million in September 2011). These numbers show how twitter is becoming more and more relevant as a social media tool. But it's also important to keep in mind another figure: the total number of accounts. In 2012, Semiocast estimated that there were 517 million twitter accounts, meaning that less than 40% of twitter’s user base is active.

Active users outnumbered by inactive

We all seen a zombie movie or read a zombie book – hey, is the new thing after vampire literature! And there's usually a common place: humans get easily outnumbered by zombies with fairly basic etiquette/social rules and, let be honest, very low communication skills.

Zombies you may encounter on Twitter

Type I. The frozen zombies – brain death activity

I a) – People who joined and left after just a month. "Sign-in, oh so very excited, this is going to be great. Oh actually this is not that great. Stop signing in. Leave it." In 2009, it was estimated that Twitter had a 40% retention rate (vs. 70% of Facebook).

I b) – Accounts created for a specific purposes (ex. marketing) just to be abandoned after they have fulfilled their usefulness.

Type II. Active users can be "zombies" too

II a) – Followers: 40 percent of active users don't tweet, signing up just to read to what’s happening in their world.

II b) – Bots accounts. Sysomos Inc (2009) estimated that nearly all of the most active twitter users updating more than 150 times/day were bots operated by sources such as news services, for example. Not all are spam bots, and many are actually very useful, but they can "moan a lot" and most of the time their goal is not to really engage in conversation, but rather disseminate information.

Me, twitter zombie I confess

Ok, I have something to admit to my fellow Web Comm colleagues. I’ve joined twitter – for personal use – in June 12, 2008. My first post was “My car audio player was stolen but they have left the Lisbon Treaty. Humm” * And I used it for less than I month before I quickly moved on to Facebook.

I was quite ashamed of the fact until now. Apparently I am not the only one. I still feel guilty because, apparently, I didn’t take enough time to appreciated it. Now almost 5 years past I find twitter a bit more conversational (despite all self promotion) and I am starting to understand how rewarding following topics and hashtags, instead of just following people, can be.

So twitter users beware! Another zombie is rising from its twitter grave!

*Yes, I had a copy of the Lisbon Treaty on my car's front seat. You can see how I was interested in EU affairs already in 2008. Apparently the person who stole my radio was not!.

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