50% of Tweets Come From 20,000 Elite Twitter Users

March 29, 2011, By Alex Ion

Most likely, all of you know the Pareto principle, or the 80-20 rule, which says that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Something similar happens to Twitter where an ‘elite’ group of users generate some 50% of all tweets read and shared on the social media site.

According to a recently released report by Yahoo! researchers, a small number of Twitter users — 20,000 to be more precise, have managed to grab more than half the attention the site gets. They are celebrities, bloggers, and representatives of media outlets and other formal organizations.

The research titled “Who Says What to Whom on Twitter” was conducted over 260 million messages posted on Twitter from July 28, 2009 to March 8, 2010, and by exploiting a new feature, Twitter lists.

“Based on this classification, we find a striking concentration of attention on Twitter — roughly 50% of tweets consumed are generated by just 20K elite users — where the media produces the most information, but celebrities are the most followed,” they said.

Another interesting aspect is that Twitter users follow back a lot less than they are followed, making the microblogging service a lot less social when compared with Facebook for example. The researchers added, “we also find significant homophily within categories: celebrities listen to celebrities, while bloggers listen to bloggers etc; however, bloggers in general rebroadcast more information than the other categories,”

Twitter is now five and has more than 200 million users, but the company hasn’t confirmed yet how many of those are active.

(Original image by cesarmascarenhas)

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