free html hit counter Comparing Twitter Growth to FBook, GOOG | John Battelle's Search Blog

Comparing Twitter Growth to FBook, GOOG

By - March 21, 2009

It’s Twitter’s third birthday, and there’s been lots of chatter about Twitter’s growth lately, so I thought I’d try to find some context.

Google (officially) launched in Sept 1998

Three years later it had nearly 18mm US uniques (comscore)

Facebook launched in mid 2004

Three years later it had nearly 27mm US unique users (comscore)

Twitter launched in March 2006

Three years later it has (roughly) 8 million US uniques users (compete)

Interesting to note the velocity of growth in Twitter’s chart, it’s clearly picking up. But even with a much larger Web audience than Google had back in 1998-2001, Twitter is not yet tracking to Google’s (or Facebook’s) early growth. But if it keeps growing like this, it just may.

Also worth noting: Twitter is a distributed service, leveraging a lot of “instances” of Twitter (Tweetdeck, Twhirl, SMS users) and I have heard that nearly half of its “users” don’t even hit the main site at any given time….

I should add, the numbers are not all from the same source, Comscore’s Google numbers come from old Media Mextrix info, and I could not find any current Comscore info on Twitter on the Comscore site. If you have better numbers, leave em in comments and I’ll add to the post!

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  • http://rexblog.com Rex Hammock

    I use Twitter a lot but I rarely visit the website, so am I being counted as a “unique”? One of the keys to understanding what Twitter is all about is seeing its API used to create such services at TwitPic.com and Stocktwits.com and hundreds more. Bottomline: You can use Twitter without being a unique.

  • http://www.stubbleblog.com Tony Stubblebine

    John, are there any back of the envelope calculations on how much traffic is coming through the API?

    For example, of the fifteen most recent updates from people I follow, only five of them used the web. That would suggest that the number of uniques is somewhere between 8 and 24 million.

  • http://www.teemingmedia.com Dorian Benkoil

    Shouldn’t we also, though, include the ramp up in apps and other twitter ad-ons. those add real value not captured in pure uniques.

  • http://www.teemingmedia.com Dorian Benkoil

    just realized I said similar to Rex in different words. (Great – or feeble — minds and all that…)

  • http://themediabiz.blogspot.com Jeffrey S. Klein

    Isn’t it interesting that the internet’s advantage against traditional media for advertising is its measurability. And there are so many different numbers floating around for even the basics of how many unique visitors a site has. I just ran into this trying to find out how many visitors at seattlepi.com.

    Makes the Nielsen ratings seem reliable.

  • Doug Pepper

    Interesting Post. I think you correctly pointed out the issue with this analysis. I think many people participate in Twitter without hitting the URL. So, the compete numbers probably understate the true usage. Of course, monetizing off the URL is probably more difficult, as well.

  • http://fury.com Kevin Fox

    The early days of sites vary so much based on their first steps that they may not be useful predictors of future results. It would be interesting to see the relative uptake of these (and other) sites starting from the moment they signed up, for example, their millionth user.

  • http://X dave h

    Although I use Twitter and rarely go to site. I don’t ever see Twitter having the mass number of users as goog or fbook. Not even close. 2+ years ago I set up my fbook account and for the most part my industry collegues were my only connections. Year plus after I noticed my circle of friends join which than blew up to old hometown friends and finally my sisters, than parents. My wife who actually is holding back in setting up her fbook account has been in my opinion virtually bullied to set her fbook account only after her friends and family used me to connect with to get to her. She broke. What’s my point? My point is the masses are coming to fb to connect with people they know. Now I speak with people in my industry ( online ) and while many have been hearing the hype, they just don’t need another way to communicate. I can argue that until I am blue In the
    Face. Bottom line, I love Twitter and I love the future of this form of communication and the incredible revenue potential it has but I believe most people will decide not to communicate and search this way. I also believe when it comes to online social interaction we would all be fools to believe fbook will be the leader in the future. Think horizontal. Think data. Think choosing. Think sharing. Think portable graph.

    @davehonig

  • http://tuwd.org Directory Dude

    I don’t think Google is a good comparison for Twitter. Different realms. Myspace or Friendster would probably be more relevant. Or even Blogspot or WordPress.

  • http://geekfun.com eas

    For what it is worth, they are pretty close to where Flickr was at 3 years.

    So many people seem to be using Twitter as a sort of combined feedreader and commenting platform, which makes the WordPress or Blogspot analogies attractive.

    Just shy of 3 years after their closed beta started, WordPress.com had 20M montly uniques in the US and 90M worldwide. WordPress according to Comscore. Their internal numbers via Google Analytics that they report on their site puts their WW numbers almost twice as high.

    I think though, that WordPress draws more passive users, and I’m sure must draw more search traffic than Twitter.

  • Hardeep Singh Dang

    I ABSOLUTELY HATE THIS US ONLY REPORTS.
    I MEAN WHAT THE HELL?

    The world is out there.

    USA IS NOT THE WORLD

    Why not have Worldwiide numbers. HOW THE HELL CAN SOMETHING BE DECIDED BY JUST US NUMBERS.

    Shameful comparison. Get this data worldwide. I am sure Twitter is gonna rock. People all over the world use twitter, facebook and Google. NOT JUST US

  • http://www.proseo.dk peterK

    Thanks for this great vpiece. I really enjoyed it. Cool comments, too. Cheers for sharing.

  • http://www.aiworld.eu Roy Wasse

    Twitter has an exponential growth path as you can see on the graph, so the momentum is due the coming year or so!

  • http://www.saleshout.com ben

    Yes twitter is very impressive. The word is spreading fast. Even my father-in-law asked me about twitter just the other day. Great job!

  • frontierblog

    I cannot agree more, actually I wrote a similar post weeks ago

    Edward

    Frontier Blog – No one ahead, no one behind
    http://www.hwswworld.com/wp

  • http://DominateFacebook.com DominateFacebook

    Twitter does the job.

    I have my blog post to Twitter and Twitter autopost to Facebook, so Twitter works well for what I do.

    But I rarely go on Twitter’s website,as apposed to Facebook, which I use everyday.

  • Matthieu Catillon

    Hey Roy,

    I think you are absolutly right, the momentum has yet to come in the US…

    Obama helped Twitter 10 months ago, it is big in the US already but I am sure Europe is 18 months behind.

    This baby is lovely, Twitter will be good for this industry…

    Cheers and thanks all,

    Matt

  • http://milindshah.tumblr.com Milind Shah

    Something everyone forgets is that Twitter actually has a learning curve, despite its simplicity. At first, most users find it pointless. And it is unless you follow people and learn some of the features, like hashtags and search, that make Twitter effective. Like chat rooms, it has some of it own language and therefore takes time to embrace. People (especially early adopters) are starting to learn and make use of Twitter in ways that wasn’t imagined initially. As such, Twitter growth will increase exponentially as its utility is defined and redefined. @milindshah

  • http://www.the-ultimate-self.com Liliane Rausch

    Love your article. Thank you! Liliane Rausch, The Ultimate Self, http://www.the-ultimate-self.com

  • http://www.punchcut.com Joe Pemberton

    Twitter started out solely as a purely mobile SMS service, not a web site. Comparing web traffic hardly gives you an apples to apples comparison?

  • http://educamus.com/home Calcius

    I would best compare Twitter to Blogger.com. Twitter is for people who is always online, reading, sharing, taking pictures with their mobile phones… Facebook, however, is more similar to 1999 Hotmail. Everybody knows it, has an account and uses it to stay in touch with friends.

  • mlvlvr

    If this were a log plot, I could see that it is exponential, or not. Absent that, all I can see is that it’s got a positive second derivative. To compare the three, exponential growth rates and meaningful initial conditions would be helpful. Whatever, I wish I had growth like any one of ‘em.

  • Juki

    I think it’s a bit unfair to compare unique users. Services are totally different and number of internet users was quite different in -98 than it is now.

    It would be interesting though to see the growth curves of Fbook and Google. Anyone have stats on this?

  • http://www.confrencebitesblog.com Brian Duggan

    Given the Facebook to Twitter comparison here, I think this visual of the increase in the word “Twitter” showing up in Facebook’s Lexicon is pretty revealing:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/narendra/3376975555/

    (originally posted on Flickr by Facebook third-party app maker Narendra Rocherolle and blogged about by Kara Swisher in http://kara.allthingsd.com/ )

  • http://recessionproofthinking.com susan kuhn frost

    I agree with Milind Shaw’s point that twitter’s learning curve slows pace of adoption. And I agree that that growth dynamic is about to change.

    Twitter is a protocol that “plays well” with others. It’s just been added to Salesforce.com so brands can respond to customers through Twitter. And with $30+M in venture capital, Twitter has the resources to figure out its business model.

    The early adopter phase is ending, and the mainstreaming has begin.