Posted: 2010-02-02 09:11:34
Shortcut URL: http://t.conquent.com/V800
There's an article on ComputerWorld's website saying "Twitter now has 75M users; most asleep at the mouse." While there are 75 million people on Twitter, only 17% of them actively posted anything to Twitter last month -- that's still almost 13 million people actively posting crap to Twitter.
I always find these articles on metrics amusing, that is amusing in the context of how to lie with statistics, or in this case, how to get all excited about nothing with statistics. You can read a lot of different things into the huge numbers of people not actively using their Twitter accounts but here are a few things to consider.
Placeholder Accounts: Most of the social media folks I know have more than one account -- Conquent naturally has its company account, which pretty much says "Follow @bissell," and then there are the accounts that people get for misspellings just as we've been doing with domain names for years. These are important accounts as brands like Michelin should own their name on Twitter, but they might not have anything to say every day.
Event Accounts: Before there were lists, and even now that there are lists, people set up special accounts for one-off events. Things like @SocialMediaConf where @AdBroad and I spoke in September has been dark since... Well, September. Show's over. Move along.
Fictional Characters: The Mad Men Twitterers all have multiple accounts, and when the curtain falls on the season, so does the chatter on Twitter about Mad Men. There are scores of other seasonal twitter workers out there, and they may fade away completely, but like placeholder accounts, they have a place in the Twitterverse.
Lurkers: The term "lurker" has been around for a long time, referring to people who read but don't write anything in places like chat rooms and (going way back) bulletin boards. Interesting thing about Twitter lurkers is that they aren't necessarily people but accounts set up to siphon links and comments out of the stream of tweets and post the info somewhere else.
That last one, lurkers, is particularly interesting. Twitter is different from any publishing platform we've seen so far because the information is so easy to grab and reuse, making the content that comes out of Twitter ubiquitous nuggets of info flowing all over the Internet.
So what if 13 million people generate the bulk of the content, only 1,400 people supposedly edit Wikipedia (see my blog on that topic) and yet no one seems to have stopped using it, nor do I think Twitter is going away anytime soon.
But, with this qualifier on the stats in hand, you're welcome to resume panicking about the death-knell of Twitter now.