As we celebrate Twitter’s 10th birthday, it’s about time you knew more about this microblogging marvel. Twitter spent its first few months as an internal messaging system for Odeo, the company that created it, before it was launched for the public as a platform for sharing news, discussing issues, organizing events, and communicating with others. PewResearch.com recently revealed the following five facts behind this popular platform.
1. Twitter’s User Base May Be Slowing After Great Growth
In the fourth quarter of 2015, Twitter averaged 320 million monthly active users, which was almost 10% more than in the same quarter the prior year. While this growth is still great, it’s actually the platform’s slowest annualized growth rate since 2011.
2. Twitter is a Worldwide Wonder
Did you know that Twitter has almost four times as many users globally than in the United States? But the platform has higher penetration in the U.S. than in any other country, with Pew Research Center estimating that 20% of the entire U.S. adult population is currently on Twitter. The highest usage is among urban residents, adults under age 50, and people in higher-income brackets.
3. Six Kinds of Twitter Talk
According to a report by Pew Research that reviewed thousands of conversations on Twitter, there are generally six types of discussion groups on Twitter, including:
- Polarized Crowds: opposed groups discussing topics with fellow users.
- Tight Crowds: people bonded by a common interest.
- Community Clusters: numerous moderate-sized groups assembled around major news events.
- Broadcast Networks: large groups following and retweeting a news source or commentator with little personal interaction.
- Brand Clusters: large groups gathered around certain products, celebrities, or events.
- Support Networks: gatherings among responses to customer feedback from companies, agencies, and various organizations.
4. Twitter Talk Doesn’t Always Reflect Real Life
A 2013 Pew Research Center study found that 63% of U.S. Twitter users used the platform to get the latest news, yet users’ response to major political events and policy decisions was typically negative from the general population. And a recent study by The Washington Post found notable contrast between the topics of election-related tweets and the issues most important to the majority of Americans.
5. People Turn to Twitter in Emergencies
Twitter can literally be a lifesaver during emergencies. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, Twitter was a vital lifeline during Hurricane Sandy that year. Twitter traffic doubled both during and after Sandy as people used the platform to share updates, information, photos, and videos. On a larger scale, a recent study of Twitter activity in 50 metro areas during Sandy found that the per-capita number of Twitter messages was directly related to that area’s economic damage. These findings show that Twitter can be a very valuable vehicle in a crisis situation.
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