Every so often, someone will pose a question about whether or not Twitter is dying. Trouble is, the debate is usually framed around various studies that report on Twitter usage, citing increases in things like number of users, tweets, and mobile usage. But how much does all that contribute to the strength of Twitter as a social network? Where's the qualitative analysis? Or does the quantitative analysis say all that needs to be said?
Well we think it's time to look into the question further; it's time to host an official marketing debate about whether Twitter is a dying social network. And here at HubSpot, we have two employees with very opposing views on this subject.
To get a little perspective before the debate takes place, let's evaluate some important Twitter stats from this year and see how they play into whether or not 2012 really is the year Twitter starts tapering out. (And yes, that image above is real. Predictions were put on the HubSpot marketing white board at the end of 2011!)
There are 100 million active Twitter users.
That stat comes straight from Twitter, and while it seems like a lot, it's only an eighth of Facebook users. It is, however, ten times the number of Pinterest users. So what does this say about Twitter usage? Well, Twitter came out two years after Facebook, but six years before Pinterest. In terms of a social network user growth comparison, this means that Twitter's user numbers should be closer to Facebook ... but they're not. While the network continues to grow and show potential for further growth, it could be doing better than it has done.
15% of adult internet users use Twitter.
Whether you think 15% is a lot or a little, the fact is Twitter is still growing ... but not that fast. The Pew Center study showed that Twitter's rate of growth is slowing down (as you can see in the chart below), and furthermore, that growth isn't steady.
After jumping from 8% to 13% from November 2010 to May 2011, Twitter usage dipped slightly in the summer of 2011 before finally climbing back up in 2012. This could mean one of two things: either Twitter hit a momentary weak spot that hurt their user base, or the amount of users leaving Twitter is close to parallel with the number of users joining. The former reason would be understandable -- summertime hits, people aren't on their computers as much, thus naturally not tweeting as much. It's nothing to be concerned with, Twitter is alive and well! But the latter theory has some bad implications; a business never wants the number of customers leaving to be nearly equal to the number joining. New customer rates should always surpass churn rates.
Twitter gets 300,000 new visitors every day.
Woo-wee, that's a good daily number! Clearly people continue to find reasons to visit the site. In fact, 50% of the aforementioned 100 million active users log in daily. That means that returning plus new visitors sums to 50,300,000 daily visits! If that many people are visiting Twitter on a daily basis, how can the site be dying?
But wait, how many of these visitors are actually taking some action while on the site? Are they simply performing a Google search that takes them to a Twitter link from which they quickly click out of? Are some simply clicking a 'Tweet This' button real quick? Is that really a meaningful action? The point is, numbers like this can fool you; a little more digging is required to figure out whether these new visitors are truly engaged with Twitter's platform.
40% of active users don't actually tweet.
Active users are defined as, according to this MarketingVox study, users who do things like read their news feed, favorite tweets, click links, and follow accounts. So that 40% number is pretty great, right? It means even if people aren't tweeting, they're at least checking in and have a chance at seeing your company's tweets.
But while it's wonderful that users are interested in the conversations happening on Twitter, on a busy day, Twitter sees about 175 million tweets. How do users work through the clutter to extract the information that interests them? And if that many tweets are sent a day, are the tweets your business sends out really being seen? So really, this stat could be either good or bad, right? It either means that these users who aren't tweeting are helping by not contributing to an already cluttered stream; or, perhaps it means the value of Twitter is diminishing as more than half of their user base doesn't contribute original content.
So what's your take -- is Twitter dying, or alive and well? Do you know any additional stats that would help inform the debate? Tweet them via #MKTGdebate, and maybe we'll use them during the Live Marketing Debate on June 22nd at 12PM EST!
Originally published Jun 14, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017