Posted January 19, 2012 10:19 am by with 7 comments

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Hear that? That’s the sound of 9.3 people registering a new Twitter account. According to Twopcharts, that happens every second. Who knew?

Here’s a cool chart that shows how many people registered just before I wrote this:

At this rate, Twopcharts predicts that Twitter will cross the 500 million mark sometime in February. But unlike the hoopla surrounding Facebook’s approaching milestone, Twitter’s isn’t that clear cut.

As we all know, lots of people sign up for Twitter. Many people (see me raising my hand), sign up for multiple accounts. But how many people continue to use their accounts a month later? Six months later?

What do we even consider an active account?

If a person has an account in order to follow the Tweets of others but rarely Tweets themselves, is that active?

Twop tries to make sense of it on their blog with a complex series of twists and Tweets that you should check out if you like that kind of thing. They spent a lot of time and effort on it, so you should look. . . but not now. When we’re done here.

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What they did was check a baseline of 100,000 accounts registered around three months ago. They found that:

  • 12% had been closed, maybe by Twitter, maybe by the owner
  • Of the remaining, 62% haven’t changed their profile pic. It’s still an egg. (And believe it or not, I just now understood why it’s an egg.)
  • 53.8% have never sent a single Tweet
  • 19,721 of the accounts have no followers and they don’t follow anyone

Taking all of that and more into consideration, they’ve deduced that around 20 to 25% of accounts converted into active users, but only 10% actually send out Tweets.

My totally unscientific hypothesis matches theirs. Just looking at my own Twitter world as a microcosm for the bigger picture, a small percentage of the people I follow send out the most Tweets. There’s another 25% who hardly ever Tweet. Why do I follow them? Because they’re friends or maybe they used to Tweet and don’t anymore.

Given all of this, is it even worth using Twitter for marketing? Sure it is. Because even though the active users represent a small portion of the total pool, they are active. That means that they may see your message and pass it along to their friends.

If Tweeting brings in one new customer a month, that’s one customer you didn’t have before. The warning here is not to spend too much time on Twitter. It’s a useful tool, but most small companies aren’t going to see a return on investment if you spend two hours a day crafting Tweets.

How much time do you spend on Twitter? Do you think it’s time well spent, or are you contemplating joining the millions who have already flown the Twitter coop?

  • You might be interested in this research from the University of California on the growing trend of ‘crowdturfing’, ie buying lots of fake accounts to promote you on social media. I dare say it’s a lot easier to do this on Twitter than it is on other networks. Just as with our own Twitter followings the headline number, be they members or followers, is not really important. What’s important are the active and engaged users.

    Anyway, here’s the research

    and here’s my take on it (as you need to register to read it in full)

    • Cynthia Boris

      Interesting info Adi. I hadn’t even thought about the concept of making multiple accounts for phony purposes. I myself am very bad about creating Twitter accounts for every blog I make (I’m a blog building addict) with every intention of keeping them up. . . alas. . .you know the rest.

      Twitter does make it easy, since all you need is an email address and you’re in.

  • Those who follow the tweets of others are absolutely active and dare I say… more important to the eco-system that is Twitter than those who merely tweet. They are the ones we marketers, publishers, and brands dearly want to reach. And just because they do not tweet, and therefore RT, does not mean they are not sharing our beliefs, info, offers, elsewhere… in fact it is almost certain that they are sharing in one way or another. In addition those who do no scan and read tweets, but use Twitter as a search platform, and many, many do… are also incredibly valuable. Please do not confuse the value as only for those who tweet… but as a vast treasure trove of information, real-time research, and communication.

    • Cynthia Boris

      I totally agree, which is why I raised the question of what is “active.” To me, a person who reads Twitter everyday but doesn’t Tweet is more valuable than someone who doesn’t read and just Tweets and I think that’s the case with many bigger Tweeters.

      I’ve actually unfriended dozens of people over time because they Tweet 5 to 10 times in the space of an hour. That’s overkill. If you have that much to say, get a blog.

      • Agree. Although I can often tweet more than that in an hour, but feel it appropriate for Twitter as many appreciate, and I am offering info on many different topics therefore unless I am writing one sentence blog posts it works better here. But it all depends upon what you find valuable and this the best part of Twitter, and other social platforms, that they are the ultimate in Permission Marketing… you do not like what you see simply unfollow 🙂

        • P.S. Thanks for the post, the reply and the valuable input Cynthia.

  • In of three minds:

    1. Professionally, I write code for web sites. Trying to talk about that on Twitter seems to only invite SEO spam bots. It’s not good.

    2. Personally, I write fiction and music, both of which I am known to podcast. I am involved with one performing art. The connections I make on Twitter among my peers helps keep me inspired. It’s really good for this path.

    3. Brands I follow, who communicate with their fans, sucker me into buying things. When one of my favorite bands retweets me then asks me to pre-order their next album, the combination of efforts is extremely enticing. In this regard… I spend more money the banter with people I admire is worth it.

    I’m enjoying Twitter too much to give it up.