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The Changing Nature of Twitter

by Sean P. Aune | January 20, 2010January 20, 2010 12:57 pm PDT

In this day and age most businesses should be ecstatic to have growth of 3.5% a month, but then again, Twitter isn’t most businesses.

Marketing firm HubSpot has released its third “State of the Twittersphere” report (PDF link) about how things are going over at Twitter, and on the very first page, in bold no less, it says, “So what’s the State of the Twittersphere today? Twitter’s growth is slower.”  Wow, it’s in bold, so it must be pretty dire, right?  I mean, they even included a scary looking chart to back up the bold!

twittergrowth

Looks scary, doesn’t it?  You see that big peak, and then a massive decline that looks like it is still on its way down.  The thing is, the peak came during a media firestorm as everyone, including Oprah, seemed to finally discover the site.  A drop off was bound to happen, but yet this scary chart still shows Twitter in positive growth every single month.  Even TechCrunch jumped on the bandwagon by saying, “That’s still growth, but a mind-blowing growth rate it is no longer.”

The report isn’t all doom-and-gloom as it points out that the average number of followers is up, the number of people each account follows is up and the average number of Tweets per account is up.  So the users who are there are definitely more engaged than they were previously, and this is a good thing as the site was being over run by spammers there for a while.  (They’re still there, I think they just get filtered out more effectively now.)

We recently ran a piece that asked if Twitter is a fad, and the conclusion there, as it is now, is that it isn’t.  It is evolving into an actual communications platform, and sure some of that “new car smell” is gone from it, but now it is turning into that comfortable car with worn seats that we wouldn’t trade-in if our lives depended on it.

A positive growth rate of 3.5% is still a growth rate of 3.5%.  It is doubtful that Twitter will ever be as big as Facebook because it just isn’t as useful to the masses, but for those of us who do find usefulness in it, it is becoming an invaluable tool.

There is also one issue with reports such as this one, and another one that recently showed how traffic to the main site was flat lined, and that is that all of this data is from third-party sources.  The flat lined report doesn’t take into account people using clients such as TweetDeck and TwitterBerry, and the report on the growth rate is quite honestly a whole lot of guess work and extrapolations of what data they can collect.  Since Twitter itself doesn’t release any data, these sources will just have to do seems to be the theme.

Twitter is the new favorite whipping boy it seems, and it apparently can’t do anything right in anyone’s eyes.  It’ll be nice when people find another new kid on the block to pick on.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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