Half of Twitter Has Never Tweeted

July 2, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Social Media | Technology

Despite significant growth in the number of Twitter accounts since last year, 53% of those who have registered with the much-publicized micro-blogging service have no followers, 56% are not following anyone, and 55% have never even tweeted, according to a report from HubSpot.?

The firm’s “June 2009 State of the Twittersphere,” which is a follow-up to the firm’s Q408 effort,? found that more than 9% of Twitter users are completely inactive, meaning they have fewer than 10 followers, fewer than 10 friends and fewer than 10 updates.

Additional findings:

  • 80% of users failed to provide a homepage URL
  • 76% have not entered a bio in their profile (vs. 20% last year)
  • 69% have not specified a location

Active Users are Regular Tweeters

In contrast to those who don’t use Twitter much, HubSpot did find that a large portion of individuals who are actively using Twitter have embraced it, and are tweeing on a regular basis.

Usage findings:

  • The average user tweets .97 times per day
  • The average user has tweeted 119.34 times in total
  • The average user has a following-to-follower ratio of .7738

HubSpot also reported that the distribution of following and follower numbers falls into a pattern very similar to a power-law or “long tail” curve.

Growth Becomes Exponential

There are, however, dramatic differences in Twitter statistics between last year’s report and this one.? In Q408, HubSpot reported that Twitter was growing at a rate of 5,000 – 10,000 new accounts per day. That rate has since accelerated and it has reached a point where it is “futile to attempt to generate a flat growth rate number.”


Twitter Used to Interact & Communicate

The content of tweets that are posted by users reveals that users are frequently using Twitter to interact and communicate with other users rather than just answer the “What are you doing?” question.

  • 1% of all tweets are retweets
  • 38% of all tweets contain an “@” symbol (mentions)
  • 33% of all tweets start with an “@” symbol (replies)

HubSpot also noted that many users often reach the 140-character limit in an attempt to get as much content as possible into every update.


Most Tweets During Business Hours

The distribution of posting over days and times-of-day reveals that business hours during the business week in the US are the most popular, the report said.


London Remains Most Popular Locale

Because the location field on Twitter profiles does not contain any structured data, HubSpot reported that it is difficult to create an accurate picture of location distribution. However, the list of the top thirty most common phrases people type into their location section on their bio provides basic directional guidance. It points to the fact that Twitter seems to be most popular in major English-speaking urban areas, particularly London, large US cities and those in Canada:


Possible Underutilization

The study also found that since Twitter has implemented a limit to the number of users an account can follow (a maximum of 2000 when the user has less than 2,000 followers) there is a large number of users who are following exactly 2,000 users, possibly indicating that many active users are intentionally trying to gain as many followers as possible to increase their reach.

“Recently, there has been a lot of buzz from mainstream media about the growth of Twitter,” said Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of HubSpot. “However, the [report] points out that people may not be using Twitter to its full potential. If new users aren’t really engaged, should it really be considered growth?”

About the report: HubSpot’s June 2009 State of the Twittersphere analyzed TwitterGrader data from more than 4.5 million Twitter accounts over a nine month period to measure Twitter growth and report statistics on tweets, the Twitter user base and user geography.


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