So what’s the deal? Is Twitter slowing down or speeding up? Reports of slowing of growth in visitors and accounts of Twitter has created a stir for some. Unfortunately for Twitter that is the price of a ‘hockey stick’ growth pattern which is associated with rapid mass appeal. It’s every business’ dream but goes up must come down at least a little. Trouble is, that kind of growth is unsustainable and then the non-thinking nay-sayers come out of the woodwork with their doomsday predictions about the future (full disclosure: I suspect I have fallen into this category at times. Guilty as charged.)
So what do you do when you see something as popular as Twitter being taken through the ringer on its growth? Measure something else that looks like growth! Royal Pingdom has done that by measuring the number of tweets per month rather than visitors or users and they have attached a magic number to it as well that always gets attention: 1 billion (please take time out to do your best Dr. Evil impersonation in honor of this milestone). Here’s the pretty picture for you and be sure to read the methodology for the research after.
Methodology: To be able to calculate the number of tweets per month, we tracked down a tweet from the first couple of minutes of each month. Using the sequence numbers of these tweets, we could then calculate the number of tweets for each month. Since finding old tweets is more or less impossible with Twitter’s own search engine, we used Google, then verified the tweet time stamp by looking at the tweet itself.
There are many different things that can be taken from this data. On one hand it can be looked at that while the number of users coming to Twitter as slowed the usage of the existing users is increasing. The implication is that they are getting value and using it more.
That might be true but let’s take a look at the dark side of this kind of research. If the user base is not growing at the rate as the number of tweets there may be another cause than just existing users tweeting more. What would that be? Twitter spam is on the rise! I think that this is the most likely cause of such an increase in tweets when the other growth metrics have slowed. If the complaints of Twitter users in general are any indication, I am putting my money on this horse.
Are you tweeting more or less? Do you think this growth in tweets is organic or spamtastic?