The growth of twitter (with analysts)

14Jul09

Everyone knows that Twitter is huge. Not a day goes by without another story showing how it saved someone’s life, broke a news story first or has fundamentally changed the way we think – its growth and entry into everyday life could justifiably allow its usage to be called (in technobabble bingo) a ‘paradigm shift’.

The questions I have been debating focus on growth. Specifically:

  • Does news fuel growth in Twitter or does uptake fuel news?
  • Do analysts (as supposed ‘fortune tellers’) get it right and are they ahead of the curve or mere sheep?
  • Why is this important?

To answer these questions, I have looked at my favourite community of analysts. With a little help from Carter Lusher’s analyst twitter directory as well as my own research, it has been possible to monitor the uptake of analysts on Twitter.

One of the fortunate aspects of using analysts as the criteria for this search is that there are very few closed communities that we can easily track growth in – if you know any let me know and I’ll add them to the table.

The graph below shows the growth of analyst participation on twitter, compared to twitter in the news (as shown by Google Trends) and unique visitors to twitter (as shown by Compete).

image

Does news fuel growth in Twitter or does uptake fuel news?
Not surprisingly the two are well connected – with a clear conclusion that in the early part of this year news significantly drove new visitors to twitter.

Do analysts (as supposed ‘fortune tellers’) get it right and are they ahead of the curve or mere sheep?
Analysts appear to be ahead of the curve. Whereas there is still a clear relationship between their uptake on news/growth they still seem to be slightly in front of the trend.

Why is this important?
It is an analysts job to understand technology trends. Obviously sometimes they get it wrong but if they get it right and predict that we should be using product x as it will be the next big thing – then, I will use it too. Our role as communication professionals is to engage with our key audiences no matter where they have these discussions.

The recommendation I would make is that we continue to monitor what the analysts predict are the major changes in how people use social media. There is a great advantage in being an early adopter of a product – such as being a trusted participant. Whereas we do not have time to try and test every new solution, there is lot to be said by watching analyst behaviour – if they are using a new solution then maybe we should too. Maybe we should be taking Jeremiah’s advice and look to get ahead in the areas of social colonization, context and commerce.

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10 Responses to “The growth of twitter (with analysts)”

  1. This would be more interesting if it looked at the number of tweets over time. Any bozo can sign up for Twitter.

  2. Always a fan of your analysis. However, this one is puzzling. What’s the math enabling you to show the number of analysts on twitter as greater than the number of unique visitors to Twitter?

  3. Lovely piece Jonny

    To share some of my insights – for what its worth!

    I have noticed recently is that I am using Twitter for a number of uses, whereas first up it was simply to monitor opinion of the leading edge Twanalysts (twittering analysts) for me its moved on to monitoring the mainstream research firm outputs as well other about 40% of the key analysts I track. I also use it to communicate directly and in one instant had an analyst Tweet in mid briefing, the spokesperson I was with then responded to that comment while still on the call. The final use I have found is keeping up with the AR community hence I have received at least three tweets about this blog!

    Moving forward I think the mertics piece will start to firm up and then be integrated with other social media pieces.

    Marc

  4. Thanks for your comments

    Josh – you make a key point. Watch this space for more analysis whereby I look to analyse particiaption based upon popularity, engagement, trust and influence.

    Barbara – the number on the horizontal axis only refers to the number of analysts using twitter. I am not saying that this number is greater than unique visitors, rather that as a trend they adopt more readily than the general mass.

    Marc – very true, I think as we use social media more we will learn how to use it in a more effective way

  5. Interesting post. Are you giving credit to analysts for ‘getting it right’ if they are merely signed-up/participating on Twitter? IMO, analysts ‘get it right’ when they make insightful and correct calls about Twitter in their reports and blogs, not just by participating. It would be fascinating to look at analysts’ predictions over the last two years versus the reality.

    It might be interesting to do a correlation analysis over time of Twitter growth versus Twitter news coverage. The polarity of the correlation would tell you if news was driving growth or growth was driving news.
    Thanks, Don B @donbart

  6. Thanks for the support Johnny. Keep on watching the analysts, your perspective is interesting. What’s key to watch is not just that the activity is increasing among analysts, but that some are using it to improve their research activities, improve customer experience, and increase influence. Next, it would be helpful if we monitored the business impacts of social tools to analyst firms.

  7. I’d be interested to see the correlation between media coverage and frequency/depth of usage. Measuring the sustained engagement–not just a subscription.

  8. 8 Mike

    Your charts are even more interesting if you no the mood or polarity of the tweets. They can do this at: http://silvatechsolutions.com/main/2009/10/09/panotrends-web3-0-framework/


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