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Sometimes it’s too easy to take cheap shots, particularly in the digital marketing world, as so many opportunities present themselves. And Twitter always provides low hanging fruit.

Twitter_Fail_Cisco

Regular readers know I’ve posted about this before, but I thought I’d look again at the numbers, because they always tell a story or two (excuse the pun).

Given Twitter has just “celebrated” its 9th birthday, I wanted to see if anything had changed. Mind you, getting accurate up-to-date usage data from one source is not easy. So I’ve grabbed data from a range of social media monitors. Interestingly not much has changed since the 8th birthday.

One thing this does confirm is that the world’s most popular sport continues to be “people watching“. Which is why social media is not called “business media“.

The_joy_of_people_watching

Here are the Top 100 Twitter account categories by number of followers:

  • Musicians/celebrities – 50
  • TV and movie actors/hosts – 15
  • Sportsmen and sports clubs – 10
  • Internet brands (Twitter, You Tube, etc) – 8
  • TV Channels – 6
  • Vacuous celebrities – 5
  • Politicians – 2
  • Bill Gates, the NY Times, the Dalai Lama and an Islamic Leader  – 1 each
warnie booze

One of Australia’s most followed Twits…

There are no consumer brands in the top 200 Twitter accounts. Check the list here.

There are more inactive accounts than active:

  • Total monthly active accounts – that is, the user accesses their account just once per month – 288 million
  • Total number of accounts with no followers – 391 million
  • 5 countries account for 50% of tweets – USA, Japan, Indonesia, UK and Brazil
  • Number of fake Twitter accounts – 20 million
  • Percentage of internet users that don’t use Twitter – 90.4%
  • Average number of followers per account – 208. But given the Top 200 accounts each have more than 7 million followers and around 391 million accounts have none, what does 208 even mean?

According to RJMetrics, Twitter’s rate of churn is 80%+, with only 17% of Twitter accounts sending a single tweet over the past month – though this measure has been around a while. Regardless, the churn rate is still high.

The simple fact is, Twitter is dominated by a narrow channel of publishers – as indicated by the Top 200 accounts. Businesses use Twitter, but much of the activity is almost statistically insignificant in the total scheme of users.

I post this blog on Twitter, but it’s not my “go-to” channel for industry information, though I occasionally check it out. Many of my blog readers retweet this blog because they read it via Twitter – which I obviously appreciate:)

Some of my colleagues in the PR industry use Twitter constantly in their roles, because journalists use it. They couldn’t do their job without it. Others find it very useful for “news feeds” or “alerts” on specific topics.

If you used it yesterday to discover who won the Cricket World Cup you might be confused. This was the image in my account:

Twitter World Cup

Aussies win World Cup – twice in one tournament?

So it’s horses for courses. Many that use it, swear by it. But those that don’t use it, don’t feel they are missing anything.

And that’s the point – don’t panic if you’re not twittering. Your business won’t suffer as a result of not having a Twitter presence. It’s a nice-to-have, not a have-to-have. It is certainly useful in specific categories, or to help individuals build their digital profiles.

A number of clients of mine now spend less time/resources using Twitter and more on Instagram, with better results. But they are in industries where images are a key part of their business – food, wine, fashion.

I suspect, given that FOMO drives so many marketing decisions these days, companies will continue to use Twitter. Unfortunately, many won’t really understand how it benefits them, let alone the cost or ROI.

As you are probably aware dear reader, the lifeblood of Twitter is traditional media, particularly broadcast TV and newspapers (including digital versions). Without these channels promoting what is trending on Twitter, the 90% of internet users who don’t tweet, plus all those with inactive accounts, wouldn’t know to go online and check out the tweets.

Gotta go – need to Tweet this and start a conversation…