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twitter: behind the numbers

Twitter-users Adam Ostrow over at Mashable recently published an interesting post comparing twitter audience dynamics to blogging. 

  • eMarketer estimates Twitter usage at 6 million registered users. 
  • Nielsen reports that their unique twitter pageviews are up to 14 million.

Given this breakdown, Adam suggests that Twitter is becoming closer to a blogger experience, with the majority of the audience reading and a smaller minority publishing. 

I don't know that I agree.

Put the eMarketer and Neilsen numbers together, and roughly 42% of twitter visitors are active publishers. The same cannot be said for blogging.  It is far easier to engage in short conversation (Twitter) than it is to regularly publish a full post on your own destination (a Blog).  The dynamics are different.

Additionally, I do not believe that there are 6 million active users (tweet at least once a week for more than 1 month), or 6 million people who have engaged in conversation on twitter more than 50 times.  If we were to hold blogging to the same standards, the universe would shrink, but it would remain substantially larger, as would the blog reading audience.  The discrepancy between audience and contributors would not match up.  And they will not match up.

Reading on twitter is not akin to reading blogs.  The experience is different, the value is different.

Reading a tweet is to listen in on a conversation.  Reading a blog is to read a letter on a topic of interest.  The value exchange is different.  The engagement is different.  And the usage patterns will evolve appropriately. 

Twitter is not short form blogging.  It is a different.  It's a mix of SMS, instant messaging, blogging and mind mapping, all to create something truly unique.