Only 21% of Twitter members are active, report says

Barracuda Networks finds most Twitter users not committed, but numbers are improving

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A study released today supports the oft stated notion that most of Twitter's 75 million registered users are less than committed to the microblogging site.

The report, compiled by Barracuda Networks Inc., an e-mail and Web security company, concludes that only 21% of people now signed up for the Twitter Inc. service use it regularly.

"Moreover, today there are 34% of users who have not tweeted since they created an account," said Paul Judge, chief research officer at Barracuda Networks, in the report. "While that still seems like a fairly high percentage of inactive accounts," he noted that the percentage of inactive users is down from from 37% in June 2009, "demonstrating that people are becoming more active."

The study reports that 17% of Twitter users have no followers at all, a significant improvement over the 30% who had no followers in June of 2009, according to Barracuda.

The study also found that 61% of Twitter users today have less than five followers, compared to 70% last June. Getting more than 10 followers seems to be a big hurdle since a whopping 74% of Twitterers have less than 10 followers. The latter figure does represent a slight improvement from 80% last June though.

The report also said that 51% of Twitter users currently follow fewer than five people, exactly same percentage last June. And 60% follow fewer than 10 people, compared to 66% in June.

The report said that Twitter's growth rate spiked at 21.17% in April 2009, during what Barracuda calls "Twitter Red Carpet Era" -- November 2008 to April 2009 when several celebrities joined the microblogging site.

Barracuda said 27 of today's 50 most-followed Twitterers, and 48 of the top 100, began their Twitter careers during that six-month period.

"With the increased visibility of Twitter, the millions of fans of many of these celebrities also joined Twitter, causing the Twitter growth rate to spike -- from 2.02% in November 2008 to 21.17% in April 2009," wrote Judge in the report. "Forty-nine percent of Twitter accounts were created during the Twitter Red Carpet Era."

In a blog post, Barracuda said the report is based on an analysis of "nearly 19 million Twitter accounts. We analyzed the frequency and content of tweets, user-to-user interactions, and each account's overall activity level."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, send e-mail to sgaudin@computerworld.com or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed .

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