In December 2012, twitter reached 200 million active users (vs. 100 million in September 2011). These numbers show how twitter is becoming more and more relevant as a social media tool. But it's also important to keep in mind another figure: the total number of accounts. In 2012, Semiocast estimated that there were 517 million twitter accounts, meaning that less than 40% of twitter’s user base is active.
Active users outnumbered by inactive
We all seen a zombie movie or read a zombie book – hey, is the new thing after vampire literature! And there's usually a common place: humans get easily outnumbered by zombies with fairly basic etiquette/social rules and, let be honest, very low communication skills.
Zombies you may encounter on Twitter
Type I. The frozen zombies – brain death activity
I a) – People who joined and left after just a month. "Sign-in, oh so very excited, this is going to be great. Oh actually this is not that great. Stop signing in. Leave it." In 2009, it was estimated that Twitter had a 40% retention rate (vs. 70% of Facebook).
I b) – Accounts created for a specific purposes (ex. marketing) just to be abandoned after they have fulfilled their usefulness.
Type II. Active users can be "zombies" too
II a) – Followers: 40 percent of active users don't tweet, signing up just to read to what’s happening in their world.
II b) – Bots accounts. Sysomos Inc (2009) estimated that nearly all of the most active twitter users updating more than 150 times/day were bots operated by sources such as news services, for example. Not all are spam bots, and many are actually very useful, but they can "moan a lot" and most of the time their goal is not to really engage in conversation, but rather disseminate information.
Me, twitter zombie I confess
Ok, I have something to admit to my fellow Web Comm colleagues. I’ve joined twitter – for personal use – in June 12, 2008. My first post was “My car audio player was stolen but they have left the Lisbon Treaty. Humm” * And I used it for less than I month before I quickly moved on to Facebook.
I was quite ashamed of the fact until now. Apparently I am not the only one. I still feel guilty because, apparently, I didn’t take enough time to appreciated it. Now almost 5 years past I find twitter a bit more conversational (despite all self promotion) and I am starting to understand how rewarding following topics and hashtags, instead of just following people, can be.
So twitter users beware! Another zombie is rising from its twitter grave!
*Yes, I had a copy of the Lisbon Treaty on my car's front seat. You can see how I was interested in EU affairs already in 2008. Apparently the person who stole my radio was not!.