Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 22, 2010 9:29 PM

What's Happening With Twitter?

By all accounts, Twitter is still one of the hottest Social Media platforms to be connected on, even as its growth begins to slow.

That was the news on Tuesday via eMarketer in their news item, Twitter Stays Strong as Growth Slows. "Twitter usage exploded in 2009," begins the news item. "US site traffic, which is only a partial barometer of how many people used the service, grew from a few million unique monthly visitors in early 2009 to over 20 million by June. Traffic has since reached a plateau, but other usage metrics continue to show high levels of engagement in early 2010... eMarketer estimates there will be 26 million US adult Twitter users in 2010, up 44.4% over last year. By 2012 nearly one-fifth of Web users, or 36 million people, will be on Twitter."

Here are some more Twitter stats to fill your strategy decks with:

  • In April 2010, Twitter reported it had nearly 106 million registered accounts worldwide.
  • The U.S. accounts for about 40% of users.
  • Unique visits to Twitter have plateaued since early 2009.

Who is using Twitter most?

According to the full report, Twitter: A Strong Current in the Social Media Mainstream, by eMarketer senior analyst, Paul Verna, Twitter is still a very sticky platform with the more vocal content coming from the longtime members. This was further substantiated earlier in April 2010 by Sysomos in their own Social Media research report (more on that here: eMarketer - Longtime Twitter Users Most Vocal and here: Sysomos Blog - Twitter Enjoys Major Growth and Excellent Stickiness).

As growth slows will the appeal of Twitter die down too?

It's too early to tell, but the idea of enabling people to communicate in a short and simple way that can be broadcasted to the world is not going to grow tired any time soon. Marketers tend to focus too much on the tool or delivery mechanism over the ramifications of what the platform does to change media and the society it serves. These are amazing times, and Twitter is one of the amazing platforms that allow us to stay connected and share information (from the fascinating to the banal) in near real-time.

Twitter is still happening. In fact, everything we're seeing on Twitter is probably just the beginning of something much bigger and even more impactful. Wouldn't you agree? 

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Mitch Joel

    I agree completely Mitch. I'm introducing people and businesses to twitter every day and I'm amazed at how quickly most of them jump into it and see the value; not only in their branding but in interacting with other brands.

    Reply
  • Posted by Nimit kashyap
    Mitch Joel

    Twitter is great and it is going to increase in popularity even more as it is so easy to use it.

    Reply
  • Posted by Steve Welton
    Mitch Joel

    Mr. Joel,

    First may I express my thanks to you Mr. Joel for putting it all down in writing. I've recently read Six Pixels of Separation (in 4 days) and I appreciate the work that you put into your book. It's great that we get to read about all the success both you've had and everyone else that was mentioned within it. I look forward to connecting learning from many of you. Your book has further inspired me to create change.

    On this Twitter note I will say that there is about to be a Digital Movement as a result of tools like these. People and companies better start paying attention to their audience. If they don't the competition will.

    I would suggest that companies and people set the goal of connecting with your audience. Which means connecting with PEOPLE. Not just "saying" it but doing it and getting fully engaged. Put both the time and money into the game.

    Mr. Seth Godin wrote something in his book "The Dip" that I think might even help before you get started. Try having a focus on being the best. I'll certainly leave defining what "the best" is to you but if you're trying to stand out and connect with your audience online and within social media you had better be standing out.

    I think the challenge now is creating systems to manage the digital conversation. The good thing is that Twitter keeps track of things if you integrate it into your lifestyle.... 140 characters at a time!

    The digital world needs more real leadership. I'm looking forward to connecting, sharing, contributing but more importantly learning from what I deem you and some of your friends to be as mentors.

    Twitter is here to stay. It was built for us.

    Reply
  • Posted by Susie
    Susie

    As a consumer I adore Twitter - I can keep up to date with my favourite people, brands and companies in a blink. Facebook is a large monster - far too cumbersome for my precious time.
    As a marketer, it's obvious that Twitter is a marvellous tool for connecting with markets who actively seek you out - beats unsolicited DM any day!

    Reply
  • Posted by Touchyourdream
    Mitch Joel

    I really agree with your opinion.

    But as Twitter is considering a plan for making money from Ads, something valuable for both users and Twitter should be developed through conflating other contents and Twitter.

    The long-term future of Twitter may depend on that. If not so, Twitter will remain as one of Social Media Platforms and is likely to be put in a difficult position to compete with potential rivals.

    Reply
  • Posted by Joe Sorge
    Mitch Joel

    I could not agree with you more, seems that the utilization of Twitter is most always the start of something bigger. The reason that I don't think it becomes less popular with a slowing of new users is that so many people are just now figuring out how best to actually USE it as a tool, myself included.
    Thanks as always Mitch, great stuff.

    Reply
  • Posted by Craig Ritchie
    Mitch Joel

    Twitter is the leader in the movement away from a single form-factor/interface. The web stats that late-adopting marketers are focusing on don't reveal the behaviours of the long-term Twitter user -- that is, they start on the web, but move to other devices and apps to interact. This is how almost all services and brands must envision the near future -- instead of focusing on how many pageviews they got on their homepage, they need to focus on making their services available ubiquitously, like Twitter. Users and customers (and what tech they use to access your stuff) are diverging. Not converging.

    @craigritchie

    Reply
  • Posted by Kevin Dees
    Mitch Joel

    I have to say I'm unsure of twitter right now. However, they are doing a few things right here:

    1) They are listening to their users. This is a big plus and probably the most convincing thing about them.

    2) They have been consistent. They are not trying to push growth, it has been organic and have have not changed their model because of a few new users.

    3) They are starting to make a little money. Yes, this is what marketers think about, twitter... maybe not as much. Which is good because they are starting to make it.

    Will they continue to impact in the future? It's an interesting thought. The complexity of their simplicity is striking. I for one have a hard time see the future of twitter. However, if Twitter can see the future that their users reveal, like they have been, then its the users who make the impact and not Twitter.

    Twitter is a medium, on its way to a platform. You can argue that it is already a platform because of the API, but that's a development platform; I'm talking about a user platform.

    Reply
  • Posted by Alexa Samuels
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, I just returned from teaching a class of socmed newbies who either had no idea what Twitter was, or thought it was only the "I just ate a sandwich" platform. After sharing a couple of quick personal stories about how Twitter helped me, you should have seen their eyebrows should up. I am sure at least half will check out Twitter by tonight.

    My point? A lot of people don't realize Twitter's true value until it's explained to them. If Twitter - or its disciples - can continue to convert the uninitiated, I don't see its relevance diminishing any time soon.

    Reply
  • Posted by Steve Poppe
    Mitch Joel

    I think we've only just scratched the surface of Twitter and its usefulness. For marketing, the secret sauce is in hash tags.

    Reply
  • Posted by Eric Marshall
    Mitch Joel

    I'm not exactly sure how they measure traffic, but do you think increased use of desktop and mobile Twitter clients could be skewing these numbers? I rarely visit Twitter.com but rather access my account through Tweet Deck.

    Reply
    • I think Twitter still knows that you have logged in/on... no?

      Reply
      • Mitch, I'm quite sure Eric is correct in his remark:Twitter struggled through the first part of 2009 dealing with the volume of traffic and resorted to making data more available through their API and firehose. I'm quite sure that user access through 3rd party services is not accounted in their web stats.

        Reply
    • Posted by @jyi
      Mitch Joel

      The eMarketer source article does seem to clarify the counting issue: “These figures include adult users who access Twitter at least monthly via any platform—the Web, mobile devices or third-party apps and widgets.” (But the accuracy may still be unreliable to your point.)

      Interpreting unique visitors can be tricky without examining the underlying data… and that’s messy and long. One perspective to consider is to split net new users versus gross new adds and losses. In other words, Twitter may be maturing from rapid churn (taste testers) and landing toward a more consistent community. The behaviors of each of these groups, specifically “engagement” and “usage”, as well as some sort of “influence” score, likely could help draw a clearer picture of the true Twitter “customer”.

      Reply
  • Posted by Chris Bird
    Mitch Joel

    terrific article, thanks.

    I too use it (instead of RSS) to act as a content aggregator. People that I follow often track down articles/thought pieces that are going to be interesting to me. It used to be that the first feed I checked was email. Then RSS of stuff I knew about. Now it's twitter - recognizing that my trust channel is working for me to help filter. Easier than del.icio.us because I don't want the wisdom of the crowd. I want the wisdom of the trust circle

    Reply
  • Posted by Justine Torris
    Mitch Joel

    Thanks a lot for the article!
    I am just a beginner with Twitter...and I have to admit that for a long time, I wondered why Twitter existed...I didn't see too much the interest...so I really like to read articles and learn more about it.

    Now I get it, but I doubt about it for two main reasons :
    - First, we can do what we do on twitter on facebook...but Facebook has much more users, and we can consider that all the Twitter users are on facebook too so the information doesn't reach more people thks to Twitter, right? Moreover, does it make sense to be able to BUY followers on twitter?!

    - Then, I think that the evolution of Twitter will "follow" the evolution of the smart mobiles market. I guess that now, most of the people use Twitter on their phone to be kept connected all day long and share the information instantaneously. So what if the smart mobile market doesn't grow as predicted by the specialists, does Twitter still have a growing future?

    I know that Twitter has 50 millions of users, which represents 6,5 billions of tweets, and that 12% of canadian people are using it...but if one of the main use is to make people converge on their websites, facebook seems adapted too!

    So I would say as a conclusion that Twitter should be more promoted, and become more visible to us! (I am a 21 years old student, and a lot of students I know still don't see the interest), so if our social life is not on twitter, there is not a lot of incentives to go if there is no promotion about it...

    I think that Twitter could go down if they don't "help" people to realize the real Twitter's potential.

    Reply
  • Posted by Greg
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch; As much as Twitter has become an hot item. I do not think it will be sustainable. The demographics indicate that the younger users of the internet have not taken to Twitter. They are more FaceBook focused. Teens and Tweens have no interest or time for Twitter. They will be the ones who decide the future of Twitter.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michael Locke
    Mitch Joel

    Personally I think Twitter is overrated. Could be just me, but I'm started to lose interest in posting to twitter as I once did. I'm getting that feeling from a lot of people I know. Not sure what to make of Twitter. Will be interesting to see what happens.

    Reply
  • Posted by David Rosen
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    Thank you for pointing out that it's not just the technology of Twitter that's amazing, but that it's imbuing the times we live in with the same quality. I'm not the first to say it, but picking up on your thought about this being only the beginning, the next few stages of Twitter will be focused on all the meta information that gets layered onto messages. Geography, chronology, demographics, and the "Internet of Things" to name a few. When people tweet, they're not just sending one message. Their message is the nucleus for a unique point of view at a unique point in time. And now it can all be shared to better understand our world.

    We're lucky to be here at the beginning.

    Reply
  • Posted by DavidM
    Mitch Joel

    Good article, thanks. Like most social media I think a large part of it's continued success will be determined by it's ability to stay connected to it's original purpose and users. As it moves to monetize and businesses use it more as the new spam, people will move on. For now, it's a great tool and I'll be interested to see where it goes.

    Reply
  • Posted by Guy Pressault
    Mitch Joel

    But then again, Twitter represents a mere 14,6% of US adult users and with less than 10% that generate content, that's about 1,5% of all US adult users who are active. See http://bit.ly/aYlEUe A lot of noise and how much is relevant. Hum

    Reply
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