Twitter use in the UK explodes by ten times says Hitwise

UK Internet traffic to Twitter has increased 10-fold over past last 12 months, according to Hitwise. For the week ending 17/01/09 Twitter ranked as the 291st most visited website in the UK, up from a ranking of 2,953 for the week ending 19/01/08. UK Internet traffic to the website has increased by a staggering 974% over this period. Hitwise also admits that Twitter is probably even more popular than its numbers imply, as Hitwise is only measuring traffic to the main Twitter website, not access via mobile (it’s big on the iPhone, I can tell you) or third party applications like Twitterrific and Tweetdeck.

Plus, the average amount of time that people spend on Twitter has more than trebled from less than 10 minutes a year ago to half an hour now. Make that about 2 hours for me.

Twitter’s penetration per head is even deeper in the UK than in the US. It ranked as the 291st most visited website in the UK, while in the USA it ranked 350th. It’s big amongst the young, but the fastest growing age group of users is 35-44 year olds, who now account for 17.3% of UK visitors.

Famous Twitterers are boosting the site. Stephen Fry, has over 50,000 followers, John Cleese can claim more than 30,000, and 2,000 people are following Andy Murray’s progress at the Australian Open. Jonathan Ross (13,000+ followers) is spreading the Twitter religion by verifying if his celeb pals are on it. He calls himself the “Number One Twitter Detective”.

The amount of traffic it sends to other websites has increased 30-fold over the last 12 months. Almost 10% goes to News and Media websites, 17.6% to entertainment websites, 14.6% to social networks, 6.6% to blogs and 4.5% to online retailers.

Facebook remains Britain’s most popular social network and is now the second most visited website in the UK after Google UK.