The British predilection for Twitter

A survey into social networks released in the last week by Hitwise.com, the online marketing trends and research outfit, found marked differences between how social networks are used here and in the US. Most surprising of all is the accelerated growth of Twitter over the last year and its predicted growth for the coming year.

For every person that uses a social network in the UK, 45% use Facebook, making it the largest social network in the UK. That’s an 188% increase on last year’s user numbers. Who was it that said Facebook was loosing its appeal again?

Bebo, last year’s market leader in the UK social network realm is now second place with a market share of 25.04%. Myspace was third with 14.75% of UK users. Back in it’s heyday in October 2007 the network peaked with 71.9 million users but December 2007 saw Myspace’s user numbers decreased to 68 million. They’ve recently unveiled a makeover in a bid to try and claw back market share.

Surprisingly, it was that assaulter of attention Twitter that was the real surprise of the survey. During the past twelve months, UK traffic to the site has increased by 63% and predicted growth for the coming year sits at 435% - that’s a pretty steep growth rate.

Twitter is still more popular with UK users than American; 70% more people in the UK use Twitter than in the states. Like all social network sites Twitter is at it’s most engaging when people first join as it sells off the newness factor.

However unlike social networks Twitter has a broader appeal, age-wise. Hitwise’s research found that visits were split 50/50 male to female. Unlike Bebo who’s users are mostly in the 13- 24 age bracket, 37% of Twitter’s visitors are over 45 with the majority of their users are aged between 25-34.

Distraction is good. Distraction is healthy but only in small chunks – 140 character chunks. With updates (Tweets) limited to 140 characters you don’t spend time on time-draining applications like you would on Bebo or Facebook. You just write about what pops into your head... be it what you’re having for lunch, the delayed train you’re waiting on or that boy that you fancy while you figure out how you’re going to snog him.

It might all seem pretty mundane but it’s more addictive than tetris and we all how addictive that was. UK visitors to Twitter Jul 07 - Jul 08UK visitors to Twitter Jul 07 - Jul 08

 

Comments

I find this absolutely astounding

Twitter is still more popular with UK users than American; 70% more people in the UK use Twitter than in the states.

More people in the UK use Twitter than the US? That's amazing.

However, I've been trying it for a while now, and I still don't "get" it. What's the big appeal?

Why the Twitter?

@rickerbh - I started off much the same, in fact probably a lot more confused and cynical about the whole Twitter experience. Sometimes that feeling returns, too.

The things I like about Twitter, is the cross between an IM environment, a micro-blogging platform and a news channel are what I found so useful. I get messages sent directly to me, I read news items from the New York Times, BBC, Guardian, Techcrunch, Chinwag and more.

People send me direct messages when they can't reach my by phone or email or don't have my details handy. And I like the fact that I follow some interesting folks who tell me things about areas where I have little, or more likely, no knowledge.

There's also plenty of tools that help me hook in to Twitter, and make it easy to consume/contribute without hitting the website. Current favourite is Twhirl and the mobile version is handy, too.

Having said all that, there's some whopping downsides, too. Who needs yet another stream of information - and there's also FriendFeed, Plurk, Identi.ca and dozens more.

The spammers/sploggers and self-promotion merchants are just as active, if not more so, on Twitter as they are on the other tools, but at least the filter (unfollow is your friend) is easier to handle than an anti-spam filter.

Lots of people have bought their tickets on the train to Twitterland, whether it gets ther or is diverted via Daventry remains to be seen.

Timewasting is the new black dahlink

So distraction is healthy? Superb! That's me back on the Facebook a zillion hours a week like last year then before I weaned myself off it at Xmas ;-)

This piece from the Observer this Sunday just gone touched on the negative impact of hi-tech communication tools (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/jul/20/psychology.mobilephones) Things is, the whole continual partial attention thing is just symptomatic of broader experiences I reckon.

I guess it's a question of balance and of the normalisation of social networks. Look at how time spent *on* - as opposed to traffic and visitors to - Facebook has levelled off and even fallen. Twitter is more of a niche product and it's simplicity is it's strength I think. And if you know how to manage distraction, there are amazing benefits from being in the cloud too, some of which have only begun to be tapped into...