7 Million Twitter accounts and the sounds of silence

Posted by andreaitis on June 6, 2009

Web security firm Purewire just released an analysis of seven million Twitter accounts.   Techcrunch did some number-crunching:

What stands out from this data is that about a quarter of all accounts are not following anybody, nearly 30 percent have zero followers, and more than a third have not posted a single Tweet. The problem with all of this data, however, is that it includes abandoned accounts (as most likely does the Harvard data as well).

Like any popular Web service, millions of people create a Twitter account, try it once, and never come back again. The Purewire data shows that about 40 percent of users have not sent out a Tweet since the day they created their accounts. You can compare this with the 60 percent abandonment rate claimed by Nielsen. But even these may not be the true abandonment rates. Just because you are not Tweeting does not mean you are not listening.

via On Twitter, Most People Are Sheep: 80 Percent Of Accounts Have Fewer Than 10 Followers

Are these numbers surprising? Nope.  But the last sentence is key: Just because you are not Tweeting does not mean you are not listening.

In online communities — forums, message boards, even blogs — there has always been a common ratio of active vs passive users.   That ratio shows that you will, without a doubt, always find more lurkers than post-ers.  Many more people will engage passively than participate actively.  At AOL, this was a constant, sometimes by a huge margin of readers to post-er.

Does that mean the ‘readers’ aren’t participating?  Of course not.  The word ‘follower’ gets a bad rap. One doesn’t have to post Twitter messages to be an engaged user. The followers are out there, and they’re not going away.  That only increases the need for organization of content on Twitter through search, trending and grouping mechanisms.

Now, come follow me at


One Response to “7 Million Twitter accounts and the sounds of silence”

  1. mrsandyclark said


    I follow you more to learn about tech than for any other reason. I am not exactly tech-savvy as you know by now. I am more of a “passive blogger”…Oh, wait…that would be a lie. There are so many ways to communicate these days.

    Twitter is one I have no interest in, as you are limited by the number of characters you can use. I usually put some thought into posts that I respond to, whether it is my own research and I always read the embedded source material. There is one author on here that I notified that her embedded source material didn’t work. Eventually, I posted my comments anyhow and was lambasted because I missed her point entirely. If she had fixed the embedded source material, that would have never happened. I kind of felt had. The next time I was presented with a similar situation, I notified the author and she fixed it and thanked me. Then, I felt comfortable commenting. A lesson you only have to learn once.

    You and Ryan Sager I follow as I learn things. I know that there are other products and forms of communication that are out there that may work for me. The others that I follow cover topics that I am usually well versed on or have to do little research to engage their post. If I read others’ comments, it is usually accidental. I don’t miss the nastiness of The Political Machine. I prefer to engage the author and their topic without having it tainted by strong personalities just looking for an argument.

    Which reminds me that I have an abandoned account on here that I made under a different screen name that I should delete. Which means I can get rid of the extra screen name as well. I like only having one. I’ll delete that today in the hopes it doesn’t screw this one up somehow.

    So, as you can see, Twitter and I are not a good fit. I’m pretty sure I have used more than 140 characters. How frustrating that would be for someone like me? I’m glad I never set up an account with them. Damn, I’ll bet I am up to at least 150 characters.


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