The Rapid Growth Of Twitter With The Stats To Prove It

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There were some fascinating statistics released recently from Nielsen Online about the growth of Twitter. These stats will blow you away:

  • 1,382% year-over-year growth in February 2009.
  • Total unique visitors grew from 475,000 in February 2008 to seven million last month.
  • Twitter is the fastest growing member community site for the month of February.
  • Zimbio (240%) and Facebook (228%) were the second and third-fastest growing online communities.
  • Twitter is not just for kids: In February 2009, adults ages 35-49 had the largest representation on Twitter – almost 3 million unique visitors from this age group (almost 42% of the entire audience).
  • 62% of the audience access Twitter from work only, while only 35% access it only from home – watch out for those, "Twitter is killing our productivity at work" articles to start flowing out of the mass media any day now.
  • It’s all about mobile: In January 2009, 735,000 unique visitors accessed Twitter via their mobile device.
  • The average unique visitor went to Twitter 14 times during the month.
  • They spent an average of 7 minutes on the site.
  • In Q4 2008, 812,000 unique users sent or received Twitter text messages (via AT&T or Verizon cell phones).
  • The average tweet per person for the quarter was nearly 240.

The above information is from a news item in Marketing Charts titled, Twitter Posts Meteoric 1,382% YoY Growth. The news item was based on a Blog posting from Nielsen Wire titled, Twitter’s Tweet Smell Of Success.


  1. I guess the big question is, how many active users of Twitter? Since you can conceivably interact with twitter in dozens of ways (tweet deck, twitterberry etc) a visit to the website isn’t a very reliable measure for determining growth or usage.
    Has anybody seen this stat?

  2. Thx for sharing these stunning numbers.
    I still have lots of people tease me about using twitter. They somehow think it is a toy and misunderstand what it actually is.
    Facebook is for friends, Twitter is for NEW friends: I’ve met so many incredible people through this tool that I would have never come across in any other way. It is leading to many, brand new personal and business relationships.
    For others, it is about something else entirely and herein lies the magic: people make what they want of twitter.
    Ultimately, the growth is amazing and yet unsurprising.

  3. Mitch:
    I wonder what will change when Twitter invariably begins to change, as they look to monetize & capitalize on the staggering growth and buzz. The stats on how this affects growth, retention and usage patterns will also be very interesting.
    The devil will be in the details, I suppose, as there’s been lots of rumor and speculation about just what Twitter will do. Key for me, will be encouragement of more business/enterprise usage of Twitter, vs personal usage. My definition of usage is not just twittering, but also the monitoring of relevant twitter activity.
    No doubt exciting times, and with numbers like these, no one can argue that this isn’t very “real”.

  4. Social media services overtake each other with increasing frequency. Twitter is supplanting Facebook faster than Facebook overtook MySpace. How long will it take for the next ‘killer app’ to kill Twitter?
    Don’t fool yourself that it’s here to stay. It wasn’t more than a few months ago that everyone was talking about Facebook’s sustained dominance because it’s a ‘platform’. Remember?

  5. Monetization has already crept into the various applications that surround Twitter. It’s now only a matter of which route is going to make the most money without upsetting the Twitter community. Thanks for the Twupdate!

  6. Nice summary, Mitch.
    I’m with Collin – the telling number is more likely the total number of unique people interacting with Twitter via all of the different channels possible. I’m not sure if anyone but Twitter has those numbers.
    I’m sure the numbers are still relatively small compared to many other properties, but the growth rate is exponential right now.

  7. 3 years old, but to see such momentum over the last 13 months – would love to see Malcolm Gladwell analyze this tipping point!
    Like Collin & Dave, very interested to see stats for total unique users via all Twitter channels.
    Also interested to see stats specific to Canada.
    If anyone has this, please share @kimle18

  8. I was a sceptic. However, within three days of scanning twitters input and writing a few terse notes myself, a major newscaster and a powerful senator began following me, then others, and the first two joined my facebook page (without invitation). I find it all quite intriguing and exciting, now.

  9. Jane: congrats on sticking with it. Only way to get it is do try it. Can’t be explained.
    Chris Goward: re Facebook vs Twitter: Whether twitter survives as is or not may not be the important question. They have created an new way of communicating that people love. Also remember that Facebook is still growing at 228% and is way past early adopter stage. That is still quite amazing I think.

  10. Usage is great. Now how can they build a self-sustaining revenue model? The social sites/apps that can cross that chasm will be the ones with staying power.

  11. {NOT an ‘I told you so’ whatsoever}
    But my first impression in Summer of 2006, when a friend asked me to repeat the name and why I was saying it would be #1 “twttr. It’s for everybody”
    Except the negative spectrum haters who by default, have to act too cool to break from playing the contrarian, Twitter has not just a billion uses across the globe, but a million uses per user.
    Think about it; who can’t use twitter?

  12. Those are terrible stats. They’re so low. Sixty percent access it from work. So that means twitter is a job to most people. I hate that people associate sitting at a computer with work. Why do people still have that old fashioned notion.
    Why can’t people access it all the time, like mature, grown up and veteran web users.
    Those newbies are dissapointing at the moment.

  13. Much of its success has to do with the ease of use. I wonder if new features are added that complicate the user experience the number of people joining will decline.

  14. Twitter deserves it. It’s certainly the most most useful (for both personal and business use) social media service to arrive in some time.

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