Twitter May Have 500M+ Users But Only 170M Are Active, 75% On Twitter’s Own Clients

Yesterday Paris-based analytics firm Semiocast noted that Twitter had passed the 500 million user account mark, with some detail on how that is playing out on a country-by-country basis. Today, we have some numbers that spell out what that actually means in terms of active Twitter users.

Paul Guyot, the founder of Semiocast, says its analysis indicate that on average, less than one-third, 27%, of Twitter’s user base is active — in other words, only around 170 million people, and possibly less at the moment.

The numbers come from research Semiocast conducted earlier this year, Guyot notes. That study, from January, found that the Netherlands had the highest proportion of active users, at 33%, with Japan following closely behind at 30%. As you can see in the list below, there doesn’t appear to be a clear trend in active users directly related to how developing/mature each market is.

Also: active in this sense means the number of accounts that were modified over a three-month period, including changes of avatar, subscribing to a new follower or tweeting, says Guyot. “We believe this is close to a monthly login rate,” he tells me. This is potentially the key one for Twitter as it seeks to monetize visitors with advertising and other marketing strategies. Also, there may be an argument for more people logging in who are just looking at what other people post, and not adding new follows or making any other changes.

Guyot also points out that the 500 million-account landmark it announced yesterday does not include spambots. “Twitter is massively deleting spam user accounts,” he noted. “Our figures do not include these deleted accounts.”

In terms of how people are accessing Twitter: Guyot says that Twitter’s own access points, including TweetDeck, represent 75.4% of all public tweets. That seems to imply that Twitter’s moves to make its APIs a little more difficult to use for certain third parties, it seems, is potentially a play to bring that proportion up even higher.

Semiocast analysis indicates that Twitter’s own website accessed from desktops, not mobile, is the largest platform overall, representing 27.6% of all activity worldwide.

But collectively it is mobile clients (including iPad software) that are most-used: they represent about 61% of all tweets, with Twitter’s own mobile apps and mobile web presence accounting for 74% of that.

Interestingly, Twitter is getting more activity these days from third-party apps outside of iOS and Android. The most popular non-Twitter agent [client] is Ubersocial for BlackBerry at 3.0%, followed by Echofon at 2.1%, Guyot tells me. Twitter clients that make it easier to tweet in languages other than English seem to also be performing well, offering some kind of edge over what Twitter itself offers. “Usage really depends on country, as many Japanese-only agents are in the top 50 of all agents,” he notes.