Oh, the burdens of popularity. We already know that most people on Twitter are sheep with few followers and who don’t Tweet much. But what about the rams? If you want to lead a flock on Twitter, you need to be heard. People with 100 followers send out an average of 2.4 Tweets per day, while those with 1,800 followers Tweet an average of 10.2 a day, according to a new study by Sysomos, a social media analytics company based in Toronto. The inflection point seems to be between 800 followers (2.8 Tweets a day) and 1,000 followers (6.4 Tweets a day).
The more followers you have, the more you Tweet. Perhaps once people attract a large enough audience they feel obligated to keep them entertained. More likely, the more you Tweet the more followers you get, provided you actually have something interesting to say. As it turns out, not everybody uses Twitter as a broadcast mechanism. Many people simply tune in passively and skim their feeds. Sysomos looked at 11.5 million Twitter accounts and concluded that the top 10 percent of Twitter users produce 86 percent of the Tweets (which closely matches a Harvard Business School study that estimates the top 10 percent of Twitter users do 90 percent of the Tweeting). It is even more concentrated than that. The Sysomos data indicates that the top 5 percent of people on Twitter account for 75 percent of all Tweets.
More broadly, 50 percent of people on Twitter send out updates less than once a week. But 36 percent of the accounts Sysomos tracks send out Tweets every single day. So about a third of people on Twitter are fairly active, dedicated users. While half are more passive desk potatoes, Tweeting less than once a week.
These numbers are actually higher than the activity suggested by other recent reports. For instance, TweetGrade found that 29 percent of Twitter accounts in its sample have zero followers (same link as above). Sysomos, on the other hand, found a much lower percentage of accounts with zero followers: only 7 percent. And it counts 21 percent of users who have never posted a Tweet (Ironically, 65.5 percent of people who identify themselves as social media marketers have never posted an update). These discrepancies may be due to the way Sysomos gathered data on those 11.5 million accounts. It indexed Twitter starting with a core set of accounts and then spreading out to all of their followers and followees. Dead accounts or spam accounts with 0 followers and 0 Tweets would be less likely to be picked up this way. All of the data is as of mid-May.
The study also broke down the market share of Twitter clients, both desktop and mobile. More than half of all users (55 percent) use a Twitter app. The most popular way to use Twitter is through the Website (45 percent), followed by TweetDeck (19 percent). Twitterfon and Tweetie are the two most popular mobile apps and the No. 3 and No. 5 most popular ways to use Twitter overall, with 4.5 percent and 3.7 percent market share, respectively. Twitterfeed, which people use to submit RSS feeds to Twitter and which was purchased today by Betaworks, was the No. 4 client with 3.8 percent share. (Here are more up-to-date cient usage stats from TwitStat).