The Changing Landscape of Twitter

    June 10, 2009

A study was released today, conducted by inbound marketing company HubSpot, which looked at 4.5 million Twitter users over a nine month period. The data was gathered by their proprietary Twitter Grader tool and provides more confirmation of what we reported last week following a study conducted by a Harvard MBA candidate and assistant professor: As the tool as grown its usage has not in the same proportion.

What in the world does that mean, right? Of course if there are a gazillion people signing up for Twitter accounts and lawsuits being filed over impersonation accounts then it must be that all the world is atwitter with Twitter-itis, correct? HubSpot’s study shows that despite the top line growth in number of accounts the actual usage of Twitter may still rest with the technology crowd that claimed it as their own oh those many years ago (well actually around 3 years ago but in the Internet age that’s like a generation or two).

The most shocking difference year over year was that when HubSpot last conducted this study about 80% of those studied had created a bio in their profile. That number in less than a year has dropped to just 24%. What’s that say? Looks like people are signing up in droves but not using the service to its fullest (or even half fullest for that matter). Other data includes:

  • 79.79% failed to provide a homepage URL
  • 68.68% have not specified a location
  • 55.50% are not following anyone
  • 54.88% have never tweeted
  • 52.71% have no followers

The graph below shows though that those who are tweeting are taking full advantage of that 140 character limit. Lucky for us since they have so much to say.


Other points to ponder include that the vast majority of tweets occur during business hours, many users are located in major metro areas and only 1.44% of tweets are re-tweets.

So speculation as to the real worth of Twitter to business can start now. While you’re at it make sure you spend some time wondering if the $500 million offered by Facebook was high or low or just right.

As for business applications, they are still there and can be very powerful. In some cases it could just be marketing by presence (better to be there than not) while others, like a Dell or Comcast, can do full on engagement of customers and prospects that falls to the bottom line in revenue or goodwill. None of that opportunity has gone away. What may have changed, however, is the speed of the hype freight train that Biz and the crew are engineering.

To put it in search terms it’s a classic case of traffic v. conversions. You can have all the traffic in the world but if it doesn’t turn into business then what have you really accomplished? With Twitter, you can all of the accounts in the world but if the vast majority is not really using the service then what is the real value? That’s why there are no cookie cutter solutions in the Internet space despite what agencies and service providers might say. It is not a “Tweet it and they will come” world, at least not yet.