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Foreword In several conversations with other professionals and marketers, we had the feeling that Twitter is considered as a conversation tool. At least it has to be considered that way in order for it to develop its ecosystem and eventually get into a successful IPO as it has been announced by Twitter itself with a much debated tweet. Twitter launching a new Conversation View two weeks ago was the company's first step towards confirming the long-suspected public offering strategy. From our perspective, it is the confirmation that conversations are crucial to add value to Twitter. This is why we decided to look into the impact of conversations within Twitter. GigaOM's founder Om Malik posted an article in which he expressed his opinion on the “blue line,” or now “Conversation View .” “The Conversations view — announced earlier today — is yet another step towards making Twitter more Facebook-like. First, what is the conversations view? Well, when someone tweets and one or more people reply, a conversation forms. It is easier for people to follow along, especially if you follow one or more people in that conversation. Conversation tweets start to look like comments on a blog post or on a Facebook posting. Participating in those conversations means that people who are on Twitter will hang about longer because they will be focused on discrete conversations. It is the same reason why most of us leave Facebook turned on in a browser window or a Facebook app running in the background.” Reading Twitter's blog post, it is clear that the first users to benefit from this change are the mobile users.
Beyond the intention, the real question really is: are there any real conversations on Twitter? Is it possible to spot a conversation thread and to follow up on it beyond a couple of replies? What are the advantages, if any, for marketers to engage in conversations that can be easily found?
What is a conversation What does “Conversation” mean? Here are a few definitions from various sources: • It’s a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged (Oxford) • Conversation is the informal exchange of ideas by spoken words (Apple dictionary) • Conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people who are following rules of etiquette. It is polite give and take of subjects thought of by people talking with each other for company (Wikipedia) • Conversation is an oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas (MerriamWebster) According to these definitions, a conversation requires a rather articulated expression for the purpose of exchanging thoughts, words. It is our opinion that: - apparently this is not happening on Twitter yet - most tweets relate to a broadcasting process (like shouting out in the street) - RTs (retweets) are the preferred form of interaction Buzzdetector's research For the purpose of our research, we took in consideration 11 markets, 57 databases (collection of tweets linked by an hashtag or by a word of reference), 7 languages (En, It, De, FR, SP, Po, JP) covering a period spanning from 2011 to 2013 This brings the number of tweets under our scrutiny to 8.165.000.
The results Social TV, show business and Emergency situations are by far the most active markets where conversations actually take place. This is not, or should not come as a surprise: social TV and show business are hot topics at the moment. Moreover, the hybridization of the TV and the social media experiences across the world manifests in talent shows, talk shows. Emergency situations like earthquakes, flooding and other natural disasters are one of the typical uses of Twitter since the very beginning.
Show biz 16%
Activism 0,2% Conversation 5% Economy 2%
Social TV 26%
Regardless of the market or the language, replies are seldom used in the Twitter ecosystem.
2.000.000 1.500.000 1.000.000 500.000 0
an Ac d s on tivi ve sm rs a Ec tion on Ev e n Em o m ts y /C erg on en fe cy re nc e Po s lit i Sc cs ie So nce ci al Sh TV ow bi z Sp or t Br
RT Original Tweet Reply
A rather low average 6.9% of replies is confirming our opinion about the current low interaction level of Twitter. It may even be perceived as a sign of low engagement: a retweet is easier and faster than an articulate a reply.
Market-by-market analysis Social TV and show business: very low engagement, lagging around 4%. In reality, people tend to interact with the show itself or with the attending celebrities, who rarely reply. Sport: real-time comments are focused on what is actually happening on the ground (the stadium, the green, the running tracks...); there is no time to write or send replies so as not to lose track of the ongoing action. Emergency situations: Twitter is a public service for information in these cases, and there is little space for conversation though it is the media that better suit to support communities as well as individuals in need. Most of the communications are for first rescue and to share vital info. RT, here is at its highest level (61.44%) Conversation: We monitored popular twitter chats (#blogchat, #socialchat). Our expectations were confirmed, Twitter chats registered on average a reply incidence of 34,2% to 35,6%. Brands: the 10% reply incidence, third best in our ranking, is mostly due to brand communities and social customer care. Politics: Inspired by a University of Oxford paper on the most controversial articles in Wikipedia, we included in our Twitter database hot topics and social issues, like abortion, global warming, terrorism. We assumed that conversation here was significantly higher than average. The reply incidence was on average between 10,2% and 11,4%.
Category Brands Conversation Economy Events/ Conferences Politics Sport Social TVs Activism Show biz Emergency Science TOTAL
Database 16 5 2 11 9 1 3 2 5 2 1 57
# of Tweets 802.184 419.314 182.165 105.667 695.469 18.593 2.129.156 20.000 1.318.021 2.050.815 424.009 8.165.393
# of Reply 77.568 144.309 4.682 9.543 69.177 186 85.186 1.156 59.089 67.020 45.532 563.448
% 9,67% 34,42% 2,57% 9,03% 9,95% 1% 4% 5,78% 4,48% 3,27% 10,74% 6,90%
# of RT 264.066 66.832 78.137 43.603 306.996 4.118 1.085.542 10.496 584.114 1.259.991 153.442 3.857.337
% 32,92% 15,94% 42,89% 41,26% 44,14% 22,15% 50,98% 52,48% 44,32% 61,44% 36,19% 47,24%
Another interesting data is how long the conversations run for: one rarely counts more than a unique first answer level.
Third Level Fourth Level 0.6% 5.6%
Second Level 11.7%
First level 82.1%
Conclusion I may be too early to talk about “conversations” on Twitter. There is still a long way before it reaches the same level of engagement as on Facebook, where people easily interact with one other. Twitter's move to facilitate conversations and engagement with the blue line as a means to follow up on tweets, therefore comes as no surprise. As highlighted by Om Malik in his article, the move may lead to increasing their dwell time on Twitter, as is already the case for other social media channels. The acquisition of MoPub by Twitter [please hyperlink to the Twitter announcement] will give the latter the capacity to leverage the information gathered from across the internet during a user's browsing sessions. The more the time users spend logged onto Twitter, the longer the conversation held on Twitter, more valuable the information it will get for retargeting. This is a huge debate we will face in a next white paper. In any case: 1. The Conversation View may help people follow conversations more easily or bring about the opposite effect by showing users empty timelines when there is little or no interaction. 2. Social Media monitoring activities will benefit from the Conversation View feature, allowing easier tracking. 3. Social Media CRM activities will benefit from the Conversation View too, with easier tracking, as well as the possibility to record entire stream of conversation with customers. 4. Twitter promotional activity like Lead Generation Card could benefit from higher visibility to friends through highlighting conversations. 5. Twitter users seem rather upset by the novelty as it is right now
6. The move seems to try to make Twitter more familiar and easy to use with new users
Useful links: Mashable – Translating Twitter’s new conversations http://mashable.com/2013/08/28/twitter-conversations-hands-on/
Softpedia - Uncharacteristically, Twitter Users Hate the New Conversation View
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Uncharacteristically-Twitter-Users-Hate-the-New-Conversation-View379281.shtml Venturebeat - Twitter finally adds conversations, letting you see connected tweets in context http://venturebeat.com/2013/08/28/twitter-finally-adds-conversations-letting-you-see-connected-tweets-incontext/#MLGH7XTjV52wQWsX.99
Gigaom – Why Twitter’s new Conversations view is a big deal and why it matters for its IPO http://gigaom.com/2013/08/28/why-twitters-new-conversations-view-is-a-big-deal-and-why-itmatters-for-its-ipo/ Techhive - Twitter revamps timeline with new conversation view
Search Engine Watch - New on Twitter: Lead Generation Cards for All Advertisers; Conversation View
Techcrunch – Twitter’s Thin Blue Line Is Already Wavering: A Sign Of More Changes To Conversation Threads To Come?
The Guardian - Twitter and the transformation of democracy
Business Insider - Ex-Facebook Exec Says Twitter Is Now A More Advanced Advertising Platform
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