Is The State Of The Twittersphere Declining?

On June 10 HubSpot released its second State of the Twittersphere report. The report looks at information collected from over 4.5 million Twitter accounts over the last nine months. Their conclusion:

"…many of the accounts on Twitter aren’t actually using it all that much."

The report found that:

  • 79.79% failed to provide a homepage URL;
  • 75.86% of users have not entered a bio in their profile;
  • 68.68% have not specified a location;
  • 55.50% are not following anyone;
  • 54.88% have never tweeted;
  • 52.71% have no followers.

The report also combines three criteria (followers, friends and updates) to determine that 9% of Twitter users are inactive.

The lack of homepage URLs and locations doesn’t surprise me – many people don’t have blogs or something they’d consider a "homepage," and many more are concerned about their privacy. However, the fact that 55% of Twitter accounts have no bio, that 55% follow no-one and/or have never tweeted and that 53% have no followers is food for thought.

A few mitigating factors come to mind, which might explain some of these statistics:

  • This report looked at 4.5m Twitter accounts compared to the 500,000 included in the last report. Twitter’s exponential growth means that a large proportion of accounts are likely new, and new users have less followers, friends and updates;
  • Spammers  and bots represent an increasingly large proportion of the Twittersphere;
  • Savvy people and companies are claiming their Twitter IDs whether they’re ready to use them or not;
  • According to Technorati‘s latest State of the Blogosphere, less than 6% of blogs have been active in the last four months. By that measure of activity, Twitter’s users are quite active.

Still, these statistics are a useful wake-up call. Twitter still isn’t a silver bullet solution to your problems. Neither is social media as a whole. They may be an important part of your toolkit, but they cannot operate in isolation.

Integrated communications approaches are, and will continue to be, the best approach.

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  • Is it dying as a mainstream vehicle for mass communication between all walks of life? Yes. Is it dying for high level conversations between thought leaders and industry professionals? No. I only care about the second usage…and could care less if people join it and forget about it. It’s not Twitter that I care about. It’s the idea/communication abilities that it brings to the table for business.

  • I wouldn’t be too concerned with the statistics. The active Twitter community does a great job providing value to it’s users.

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  • As long as Twitter doesn’t come with instructions, it will take people a while to figure out how to use for their personal benefit. In the meantime, it seems we’re moving beyond individuals using it to to connect and share and onto brands finding ways to service, support and gather communities. If they do it well, i.e. @kogibbq, there will be more reasons for people to actually use Twitter.

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  • I’m curious what people would think of Twitter deleting inactive accounts after a certain amount of time and after a few warnings in order to improve the “numbers”.

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  • It will be intersting to know what part of the exponential growth of Twitter is generated by spammers. Are there any statistics around that?

    Regarding the decline of the Twittersphere – as every other fashion thing it will have its peek and slide. The question here is whether Twitterowners can make it sticky.

  • Dave, I wrote about the twitter 80/20 rule some time ago. I’ll link in at the bottom. Basically the main gist of the conversation was that in the early days of twitter 80% of the users were active users. Most of them had blogs, and most of them were early adopters. In the early days it seemed to me that 80% provided value and 20% were the inactive and lurker users.

    This has clearly flipped. Quickly with main stream adoption and folks hopping on to secure their twitter URL that is no longer the case. I believe by reading the Forrester reports and the data that you speak of that it is more like 80/20 the opposite way!

    This is how I break it down.

    80% are lurkers or non-users
    20% are active and putting out content
    Of that active 20% 2.5-5% are providing value to the community by sharing links, posting unique thoughts and not updating us on the latest bathroom break from the cubicle.

    I have ZERO data to support this, but I bet I am pretty damn close!

    As to your answer of ‘Is twitter gong down hill’ I think the answer is yes and no! I know that I have lots of people following me daily, however my ability to sift through the masses is becoming difficult. Finding someone with a profile, or one that is not full of buzzwords is difficult. I dont need real estate, I don’t need a therapist, a marketing guru, or a wealth coach. What i need is for people to be themselves. Like Amber naslund said, and i reiterated on my blog. “No one cares about your widget! They care about your story.”

    Sorry for such a long comment, just needed to get it out!

    @keithburtis 🙂

  • Some really interesting stats here. I’ll have to check out the rest of the report.

    Thinking about some of the stats, I wonder how many of the inactive users are just squatters? Also, I wonder if the growth of twitter is a reason for such a low amount (6%) of active blogs in the last 4 months. It would be interesting to see these stats matched up with similar stats from other sites like facebook and myspace. Could just be a natural occurrence that comes with the great deal of buzz these sites get when they go mainstream. People hear about the site, stop by to see what the commotion is about, and many don’t return.

    I have a feeling this is more of an issue for twitter than other sites though. It has quite the learning curve. As Edward said very well, until they come up with some instructions, the majority of new users aren’t going to get twitter right away, and many won’t stick around until they do.

    How do I feel about this? Exactly the same as Stuart. Well said brother.


  • Interesting post. Given the massive publicity for Twitter over the past year or so, it’s not surprising that a lot of people would sign up for the latest fad but couldn’t figure out it’s relevance for them, or just didn’t take to it. Twitter’s role in Iran over the past few days is another testament to the power of social media tools. But there has to be a reason — or a strategy – for people to use it consistently.

  • Isla Campbell

    Twitter has the potential to be a fabulous medium for quick, to-the-point communications, and I would submit that it is in a state of change rather than a state of decline. The comments posted were salient – there is a learning curve that people may abandon, novelty creates interest that does not always translate into regular use, it can be difficult (or daunting) to wade through a vast number of tweets – but I think that there’s also an issue of available time to tweet. I don’t have a BlackBerry or mobile that will support Twitter usage, and I spend much of my time away from a computer and in lectures. This translates into fewer opportunities to tweet on a regular basis. I wonder how many other people fit into the same scenario (i.e. limited opportunities = limited/irregular tweets)?

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