Could it be true? Has the glow of the Twittersphere, recently thought to be extending its microblogging embrace into every dim corner of humanity, peaked from its meteoric rise? Several recent reports suggest that Twitter’s adoption and use are in decline. The popular microblogging service, which reported a year-over-year growth rate of 1380%, last February, appears to have lost some of its luster.
Statistics can be fun, and are used to justify many positions. In fairness, as I have no State of the Union address nor party rebuttal to prepare, I will dare to add clarity to the rhetoric. Reports by HubSpot and RJMetrics both show a decline in the rate of growth of new Twitter memberships since its peak last summer. Does that mean users are abandoning the service in droves? No. It means the pace of adoption has slowed. It is still noteworthy that the service is adding more than six million new users a month (versus a recent peak of nearly eight million). It’s still growing and growing fast—just not as fast as it was when frantic passengers were tweeting their harrowing survival story from the wings of Flight 1549 while floating in the Hudson River, or amidst the prime-time race between Ashton Kutcher and Anderson Cooper to best one another in first ascending to the million-followers club.
Much attention is being paid to the numbers of inactive users and users who use the platform sparingly. Combined with the reports of a slight slowing of the rate of new members, a dramatic story can emerge. While RJMetrics focuses on the increased number of inactive or less active users, both reports agree that, for those who use the platform regularly, their dependence on the platform is growing. HubSpot notes a dramatic rise in both the number of tweets and number of followers for the average user from July 2009 to January 2010.
Perhaps some of the sparkle has dimmed. But there is a more relevant story here. Users of the platform, of which there are upwards of 100 million, seem to be settling into a pace. The platform has matured. While there should be no surprise that many curious people register and never become active users, both reports indicate that among active users, the service is gaining ground.
From my vantage point, I see mainstream acceptance. Gone are the days (thankfully) of tweeting one’s dinner choice or sock-color mismatch adventures. On the rise are countless examples of the effective use of a relevant communications channel. Companies in every industry are learning to leverage direct micro-communication to build brands, engage customers and provide quick service to an increasingly mobile audience. People are connecting, learning, reporting and communicating—and doing it more effectively in just 140 characters at a time.
Join the conversation via the comment section below. Which quote do you think describes Twitter’s fate?
- “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss
- “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Mark Twain