Posted August 4, 2010 10:04 am by with 8 comments

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Look, if you’re going to do a survey about Twitter habits (via), you really should get a sample larger than 135 people.

I admit, that in most cases, 135 people is enough to make a study statistically relevant, but we’re talking about Twitter here. Twitter has about, what, 100 million registered users? OK, let’s be conservative and say 50 million registered. More conservative still? Let’s say 10 million active users.

135 out of 10 million? Is that going to be a survey you’d fully trust?

It is? Alright then! I have some pretty charts for you! 🙂

Apparently 29% of Twitter users have retweeted something without actually looking at the contents of a link:

Are they insane? With all of the URL shorteners in use, wouldn’t you want to know if you were about to share a NSFW link with your network–which happens to include your mom?

OK, so what else gets retweeted? Well, apparently “insightful tweets” and “interesting blog posts” lead the pack:

I guess “Everything that Ashton Kutcher tweets” wasn’t one of the options to pick from. 😉

OK, one last criticism of this survey before I close. It’s a survey, not a study. In other words, you’re counting on tweeps to accurately remember what they do more of on Twitter AND you’re counting on them to ignore the common psychological desire to try and answer the survey questions with the answers the asker hoped to get.

If you want a more scientific approach to retweet habits, I highly recommend checking out Dan Zarrella’s presentation.

  • Hey Andy,

    I sometime retweet as a note to self / read later, especially if I’m on the move. So I can understand that 29% stat, though it seems worryingly high in an age of spam.



    • I’m curious as to why you would RT instead of maybe mark as a favorite?

      • Me too, now you mention it. I don’t really use ‘favourites’ – I think it’s the label as much as anything (making something a favourite seems like more of a recommendation / judgement than simply tweeting it). But that seems like a good idea, using ‘favourites’ as a kind of ‘save for later’ depository.

  • Since this survey was popular in the SEO community, I’m going to venture that most respondants were also SEOs.

    Seeing how our community is mostly a virtual handjob network, that would explain the retweets. A lot of people in our SEO community don’t retweet based on the merits of the tweet, they do it based on WHO tweeted it. They’re just trying to impress the person they’re retweeting.

  • I know I have caught myself doing this as well. As suggested above I like to come back articles later. Bookmarking is messy, I like bookmarks to be more permanent logging of sites I come back to visit.

  • I’d never think to RT as a way to bookmark. Twitter’s too fast moving for that to be a help. I will admit to having sent on a link without checking it but it’s rare because I’ve clicked so many links that were broken, spam or not as good as they sounded.

    I learned my lesson last year when I posted a YouTube video on a blog. I had seen a video on a website and needed an embed code so I grabbed what appeared to be the same video on Youtube without watching it all the way through. It turned out to be one of those Rick Roll videos and I angered a bunch of readers who take things way too seriously.

    Now, I check 99% of the time before I RT or Post

  • Hi Andy,

    I must admit i am guilty of retweeting without following the link. I do tend to look at the person that made the original tweet. If I know and trust them I will RT first and then look at what they are tweeting about.
    Probably a backward way of doing it, but hey we are not all perfect.


  • I don’t personally use Twitter, but this whole not reading thing makes perfect sense to me. Assuming that everyone reads the articles they share on Twitter is like thinking everyone who purchased the New York Times best seller ends up finishing it from cover to cover. Highly unlikely.