HubSpot has released their Third Annual State of the Twittersphere report and for those of us who keep tabs on Twitter from both the marketing and social interaction perspective the results are interesting. HubSpot analyzed the more than 5 million Twitter accounts and 6 million Tweets that have been collected by Twitter Grader.

Perhaps the biggest news in the report is the slowdown of Twitter's phenomenal growth over the past few months. Twitter hit a peak of double digit month over month growth last spring when the service was responsible for breaking several news stories and when celebrities like Ashton Kutcher gave the service new exposure.

In the last half of 2009 however, growth of the service started to slow a bit. That's not a bad thing, it simply means Twitter is starting to level out into a more realistic and sustainable growth rate.


Twitter Users are more Engaged

It's worthwhile to note that while growth is starting to slow, Twitter members are maturing in their use of the service. The average Twitter user is now following around 170 people (as opposed to about 40 people when HubSpot first analyzed this stat) and is being followed by an average of 300 other people.

Those numbers are some what skewed by power users, however. Twitter users like Ashton Kutcher literally have millions of followers, bringing the average numbers way up. In reality, most Twitter users are still operating with a fairly small network. In fact, 82% of Twitter users have less than 100 followers and roughly the same percentage are following less than 100 people themselves.

The average number of tweets per Twitter user has also increased dramatically, showing the users who stick with the service are taking the time to become truly invested in the conversation.

Twitter Users are Profiling Themselves

HubSpot also notes the number of users who have taken the time to write bios, specify their location and add a URL to their account has doubled since the last time they reported on Twitter. This again tells us that Twitter users are becoming more mature in their use of the service and they're making sure they're leveraging it properly.

Interesting Data on When Twitter Users are most Active

HubSpot also has some excellent insight into when people are using Twitter. This is essential data to have a grasp on if you're looking to build a Twitter marketing strategy. After all, getting your message heard above the chatter on Twitter is difficult on a good it on a day or at a time when no one is paying attention and you're entire campaign can come to a screeching halt.

The highest usage days for Twitter are Thursday and Friday. There's a sharp drop-off over the weekend and a slow ramp up that begins building again on Monday.


Most Twitter users are night owls, actively tweeting in the evening between 10 and 11pm while wrapping up work or watching TV at home.


By mixing this data with information presented by HubSpot's Dan Zarella at last November's PubCon, we can really start to build a picture of when the best times are to launch information you'd really like to see spread on Twitter.

At the show, Dan shared the following data:

  • The highest click thru rate on tweeted links occurs between 2 and 3pm. (Followed by the 8-9pm time slot and the 5-6pm time slot.)

  • Thursday, Saturday and Sunday experience the highest click thru levels, consistently beating the average.

  • The more links you tweet, the less likely people are to click those links.

  • Tweets that include links are far more likely to be retweeted than tweets without links.

  • The highest percentage of retweets occurs on Fridays at 4pm. (Monday afternoons also have high retweet rates.)

Dan also had some great data on the types of content that are most likely to be retweeted:


So How Does This Impact You?

There are several strong strategic points we can take away from this data.

We now know if you're looking to use Twitter for viral purposes to get your message far and wide, it's important to launch your efforts on those Monday and Friday afternoons when the most retweeting is taking place. We know it's important to include links in those tweets and including links tied to breaking news or that are designed to inform and educate will increase our chances of being retweeted.

We also know if you're looking to use Twitter purely for the click thrus and you already have a strong following, you're going to want to focus your efforts in the early afternoon, around dinner or right around prime time. We also know you'll want to be very selective in how often you tweet links so the ones you do share are well received and have the chance to increase your credibility.

Twitter can be a very effective way to spread the word about your business, but as with all other forms of marketing and advertising, it's important to understand the dynamics of its users. The latest data from HubSpot proves the idea of day parting your message is just as effective on Twitter as it is elsewhere.

For more insight, you can download the full report as a PDF, or read the summary over at HubSpot.

January 21, 2010

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


This is excellent content, and really easy reading. I'm researching effective Twitter strategies now in preparation of creating an account for business use. I'm thankful to have run across your article. Great job!

Hey Jennifer! Always find your articles and series useful. Interesting dilemma then: we want viral exposure AND click throughs, so it looks like the best approach is what I'll call "natural" use of Twitter.
1. Post useful news and links and RT that which you find useful.
2. Don't oversell. Provide links to your company when appropriate, but don't over do it.
3. Learn to schedule Tweets (I'm liking hootsuite) and experiment, track and mix it up between Mondays, Fridays, Thursdays.
4. I'm a heavy Twitter user, way above average Following/Followers, but not like AK; I'm a night owl...just do what comes naturally.
It's kind of like old fashioned networking in 140 characters: say something interesting, useful, or noteworthy and people will repeat it and pay attention. Say it when they are listening. Meet them where they frequent.

Hope all is well with you. Still wearing my "30 days" milk bank T-shirt with "Express Yourself" much to my teenagers' chagrin.

Very nice article. Stats are great and telling. Niche Marketing requires a feel for your user. Just like any good presentation the key is to "know your audience". Through testing we have come up with some surprising results. The key for us has been to take all marketing initiatives on a case by case basis. Twitter has many uses. To inform, to educate, to disseminate, and to monitor the message signal strength are but a few. Our experience has been that the hard sell doesn't work with social media. We let the message drive the conversation not the messenger. This may work differently for major brands who can brute force their message because of a need, or perceived need of the listener.

Here’s some findings by implu:

29.4% - of active* Twitter users have less than 100 followers
79.4% - of all Twitter users have less than 100 followers

31.5% - of active* Twitter users are following less than 100 people
85.9% - of all Twitter users are following less than 100 people

40.4% - of all Twitter users are active*

*active - the Twitter user has tweeted within the past 30 days.

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.

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