What do you find when you look at 41 million Twitter users and 1.87 billion follower/followee relationship? (Aside from a lot of minutiae.) Well, Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science & Technology found that when it comes to Twitter, people really aren’t that interested in being social. More than 3 in 4 —78%—of all Twitter connections are not reciprocated.
By contrast, says KAIST, Yahoo 360 has an 84% reciprocation rate (that is, only 16% of relationships aren’t reciprocated). Even Flickr has more than three times the reciprocation rate of Twitter—68%. Twitter, then, appears to be less of a social interaction sphere and more of a news broadcasting medium.
For a place renowned for its social capabilities, you’d expect Twitter to be more . . . you know, social. But in fact, more than two-thirds of Twitter users (68% again) are not followed by a single person they follow. That sounds like an anti-social network!
Of course, Twitter relationships may operate differently than traditional relationships. Do you have to reciprocate on Twitter for it to count? Of course not. You can still exchange @ messages with people you don’t follow (though you can’t send them a private direct message). It’s easier (and more probable) to converse with someone you’re following, but not necessary.
This might have more real-world analogies as well. We talk with people we see all the time—the person in line in front of us discussing a favorite movie, book recommendations in the library, etc. We don’t even know all these people’s names—but does that make it less of a social interaction?
KAIST’s full presentation:
What do you think? Would you expect the number of reciprocal relationships to be higher on Twitter? Does a lack of reciprocation make it less social?