I’m Not Tweeting to Myself, It’s Just That No One’s Listening


twitter_smallADOTAS – Groupon CEO Andrew Mason’s comment that his company is akin to former “boy band” sensation ‘N Sync (or *NSYNC) inspired me to concoct up a poll comparing social media all stars to infamous young male singing groups. Though it was mainly meant to garner some laughs during a slow news season, but I may have been almost too on point comparing Twitter to 98 Degrees (“no one’s sure who is listening to them”).

That vocal group’s biggest claim to fame seemed to be that pretty-boy singer Nick Lachey dated/married/divorced another manufactured pop star with questionable talent: Jessica Simpson. Twitter, on the other hand, has a lot going for it, including a well-regarded recent redesign, a $4 billion valuation with more funding en route and growing revenue streams.

However, a comprehensive new Pew Research Center report found that although Twitter boasts 65 million American “users,” only 6% of U.S. citizens (that’s 8% of U.S. Internet users) employ the microblogging service. We had a little fun at Twitter’s expense last week talking about the zombie population — bots, news feeds and other accounts with no vital signs — but it turns out Twitter is not only filled with zombies, but narcissists.

Only about a quarter of the real Twitter users check several times a day for material posted by others; another 12% take a gander once a day. Twenty-one percent of users admitted they never check for material posted by others; 20% said they check “less often” and 7% said once every few weeks.

Here’s a little math: 36% (percentage of users scoping out other users’ material at least daily) of 15 million (6% of American population on Twitter) makes for 5.4 million truly active U.S. users. That’s about 8% of the 65 million American Twitter accounts.

Business Insider posits that this is another sign that, despite the constant media attention and OMGing about stuff like Lady Gaga having 5.7 million followers, Twitter is note catching on with the mainstream. Henry Blodget buoys this argument by showing a chart from Gawker Media that notes Facebook’s growth as a resource for social site referrals dwarfed Twitter’s in the last year. In addition, StumbleUpon has also proven a greater resource for site referrals (however, the data only goes up to August).

If Twitter really isn’t catching on with the masses, it’s ad revenue prospects diminish significantly. Sure, major advertisers like Coca-Cola are on board, but the social network isn’t going reel in monster amounts of revenue if its reach doesn’t improve. Though he said recently that Twitter wouldn’t sell for even $5 billion, perhaps cofounder Biz Stone should give an acquisition more consideration.


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