by Felix Richter, Statista.com
Researchers from the University of Illinois recently published a research paper on the geography of Twitter that contains some interesting data on general Twitter use. The data, provided by social media data vendor GNIP, reveals that Twitter usage is very concentrated, i.e. a small percentage of heavy users account for a large chunk of the Tweets that are sent.
During the sample period (October 23 – November 30, 2012), 85 percent of all Tweets were sent by the top 15 percent of Twitter users. The top five percent of users accounted for 48 percent of all Tweets, and the top one percent of all users accounted for 20 percent of all Tweets.
Given the nature of Twitter, these numbers don’t come as a total surprise. Apparently many people use Twitter as a news aggregator, a constant stream of information, but rarely actively contribute to the global conversation.
The following chart illustrates the distribution of Tweets among Twitter users.
One reason for the high volumes of usage among a few users is the increased use of Twitter by media.
A little more than seven years ago, Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet. Since then, the microblogging service quickly went from niche platform to one of the largest social networks in the world. And more impressively, Twitter has become the quickest, maybe even the most important channel for news distribution. Major news outlets can no longer afford to ignore the power of Twitter and willingly utilize the service to spread their stories.
In February 2011, the Pew Research Center monitored the Twitter activity of major American news outlets and we did the same last week to determine how Twitter usage has changed over the past two years. The result comes as no surprise: aside from one exception, all media outlets in the sample have increased their Twitter activity significantly. Most organisations now send more then 300 tweets a week, and that is only counting the main Twitter feed.
Please note that this chart should be treated as no more than anecdotal evidence for increased Twitter activity, as the number of tweets obviously depends on the news situation in the sample week. Nonetheless, the trend is pretty obvious and Twitter's role in today's news environment should not be underestimated.