Posted June 10, 2009 1:55 pm by with 7 comments

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twitter-birdA study was released today, conducted by inbound marketing company HubSpot, which looked at 4.5 million Twitter users over a nine month period. The data was gathered by their proprietary Twitter Grader tool and provides more confirmation of what we reported last week following a study conducted by a Harvard MBA candidate and assistant professor: As the tool as grown its usage has not in the same proportion.

What in the world does that mean, right? Of course if there are a gazillion people signing up for Twitter accounts and lawsuits being filed over impersonation accounts then it must be that all the world is atwitter with Twitter-itis, correct? HubSpot’s study shows that despite the top line growth in number of accounts the actual usage of Twitter may still rest with the technology crowd that claimed it as their own oh those many years ago (well actually around 3 years ago but in the Internet age that’s like a generation or two).

The most shocking difference year over year was that when HubSpot last conducted this study about 80% of those studied had created a bio in their profile. That number in less than a year has dropped to just 24%. What’s that say? Looks like people are signing up in droves but not using the service to its fullest (or even half fullest for that matter). Other data includes:

  • 79.79% failed to provide a homepage URL
  • 68.68% have not specified a location
  • 55.50% are not following anyone
  • 54.88% have never tweeted
  • 52.71% have no followers

The graph below shows though that those who are tweeting are taking full advantage of that 140 character limit. Lucky for us since they have so much to say.


Other points to ponder include that the vast majority of tweets occur during business hours, many users are located in major metro areas and only 1.44% of tweets are re-tweets.

So speculation as to the real worth of Twitter to business can start now. While you’re at it make sure you spend some time wondering if the $500 million offered by Facebook was high or low or just right.

As for business applications, they are still there and can be very powerful. In some cases it could just be marketing by presence (better to be there than not) while others, like a Dell or Comcast, can do full on engagement of customers and prospects that falls to the bottom line in revenue or goodwill. None of that opportunity has gone away. What may have changed, however, is the speed of the hype freight train that Biz and the crew are engineering.

To put it in search terms it’s a classic case of traffic v. conversions. You can have all the traffic in the world but if it doesn’t turn into business then what have you really accomplished? With Twitter, you can all of the accounts in the world but if the vast majority is not really using the service then what is the real value? That’s why there are no cookie cutter solutions in the Internet space despite what agencies and service providers might say. It is not a “Tweet it and they will come” world, at least not yet.

  • Most of those who have joined twitter recently are probably companies looking for PR, or people who joined to see what it was all about who haven’t figured it out yet. I think that Twitter is not very user-friendly, and it’s become very PR-oriented recently.

  • I think the reason that many people create twitter profiles and then twitter only once (at most) is that Twitter is really difficult to understand for most non-tech people.

    Unlike most applications you have no idea what to do when you first create an account. It’s almost like you give someone one walkie talkie – but they dont really know people who may be listening – or what they might want to say. The applications for twitter are not easy for newbies either.

    Note also that there is no email confirmation when you create an account. I think if there were an email confirmation click required that would cut down the twitter subscribers number by at least 20%!

    That said – I think Twitter is ridiculously powerful and each active twitterer adds value to the platform. The lurkers don’t hurt neither.


    Sam Michelson’s last blog post..Evolution of the Internet and what it says about us

  • I understand the lack of usage from the perspective of the average user who doesn’t find a point in tweeting to pretty much nothingness and finding it difficult to use. It can also be frustrating that most of the very people you want to communicate with are not using it yet; so it’s just easier to stick with Facebook or Myspace. I think that Tweeter should hold more people’s hands in showing them how to integrate Tweeter with Facebook.

    I personally think it’s a great tool when integrated with your blog or website and being able to essentially provide small updates to your blog on the fly and project your presence that much more. I really enjoy it.

    I think that Twitter needs to integrate its feeds with other online services to give its users a bigger voice and more relevance. This would be more appealing to more people in my humble opinion. How that is done I don’t know. Twitter is here to stay and some smart guy is going to put it into overdrive in the not too distant future.

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  • I use twitter to promote my web pages on a daily basis and have found it to be very beneficial from the first day to now. I’m not to fussed who own it just that i can use it to my advantage for as long as possible.
    It’s all about me me me!! 🙂

  • nilesh

    Hi Frank, You may find the study from Sysomos interesting It is a comprehensive study based on 11.5 million user accounts with lots of useful statistics.

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