Average of 750 miles separates tweets from retweets, study shows

Posted on May 10, 2013


A study conducted by the University of Illinois has shown how the emergence of Twitter has made its users able to communicate instantly regardless of distance or location, with the social media site often being used specifically to communicate across long distances.

Researchers discovered that, on average, the distance between a person retweeting or referring to a tweet and the user who originally tweeted it is 750 miles. In UK terms, that’s roughly the equivalent of every tweet originating in Devon, Cornwall and all retweets occurring in the Scottish Highland town of Wick.

The study analysed a month’s worth of Twitter activity – encompassing 1.5bn tweets and 70 million Twitter users – and found that the Indonesian capital of Jakarta was the most geographically tagged city, followed by New York. It also revealed that Twitterers are generally of few words, with the average user needing just nine of them to make their point.

Furthermore, it would appear that Twitter is often deliberately used to exchange messages between users who are separated by long distances or international boundaries. Discovering that most users who are trading more than nine messages a month are far apart geographically, the researchers said:

“In the social media era, location plays a far lesser role in who we talk to, what we talk about, and where we turn for information.”

With its ability to make the world smaller and circles of communication larger, it is no surprise that Twitter is widely considered to lend itself well to business, with most SEO companies and online news providers now well aware that social networking tools are as important in online marketing as company websites themselves.


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