Over the past few months there has been plenty of speculation around the Web that Twitter’s growth has stalled, but if we look at activity on Twitter in terms of the number of tweets, this is far from the truth.
According to our research, Twitter is as of December processing more than one billion tweets per month. January passed 1.2 billion, averaging almost 40 million tweets per day. This is significantly more than Twitter was processing just a few months ago.
This increase in activity is also in line with a statement that Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, made on January 12:
Across all metrics that matter, yesterday was Twitter’s highest-usage day ever. (And today will be bigger.)
Visualizing the growing use of Twitter
To visualize the increase in Twitter activity over time, we have created a chart that shows the number of tweets per month back to mid 2008. It’s quite revealing.
Viewing this, it becomes very clear that not only was 2009 the year that Twitter’s popularity really exploded, it also shows that Twitter usage is still increasing rapidly.
The really good part about this chart is that it represents all tweets, including those made from third-party applications via Twitter’s API. This means that we see the actual activity of the Twitter service as a whole.
Some interesting observations:
- December 2009 was the first month Twitter processed more than one billion tweets (with 1.036 billion tweets).
- January 2010 had 16 times as many tweets as January 2009.
- The activity on Twitter has doubled since August 2009.
- January 2010 saw more tweets per day (39.5 million) than the whole of September 2008.
The last three months have all seen a month-to-month growth in Twitter activity of close to 17% (Nov: 16.8%, Dec: 16.6%, Jan: 16.9%).
If that growth rate stays more or less the same for another month, Twitter should process around 1.4 billion tweets this February. Perhaps a bit less considering February is the shortest month of the year.
Note that this research is about Twitter usage, not the number of users, which we have no definite data for. However, it makes sense that with increased activity, the number of users should be increasing as well.
Methodology: To be able to calculate the number of tweets per month, we tracked down a tweet from the first couple of minutes of each month. Using the sequence numbers of these tweets, we could then calculate the number of tweets for each month. Since finding old tweets is more or less impossible with Twitter’s own search engine, we used Google, then verified the tweet time stamp by looking at the tweet itself.
Further reading: Our November 2009 study of when and how often people tweet.