Why Do People Twitter?: Results of a Scientific Study

By: Shama Hyder

A few months ago, I conducted a full blown quantitative study of Twitter. (This was for a Master’s thesis from the University of Texas at Austin).

  • Main goal was to study why people use Twitter, and to check if they perceive time differently (goes by faster, dragging on, etc.) than people who use other social media sites.
  • Over 1000 surveys were collected. Approximately 650 were Twitter users.
  • One question asked…”I twitter because…” Answer choices were divided into six categories of communication motives (i.e., pleasure, affection, inclusion, escape, relaxation, and control).

Results?

Results revealed that Twitter users were more likely to communicate in order to Escape. This means they chose items in line with: I talk to put off something I should be doing; I talk to get away from what I am doing; I talk because I have nothing better to do; I talk to get away from pressures and responsibilities. My earlier research on Twitter had led to the assumption that it was a “water cooler” of sorts for bloggers (as a group and occupation type) to convene, ask questions, get feedback, and spend time with colleagues. These findings make it clear that Twitter users do not view the social media site as an online water cooler. In fact, the Escape factor as a reason for communication puts Twitter more in line with “happy hour.”

There was no difference in the perception of time.

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