The Twitter tsunami

By January 27, 2009Facebook, Twitter

We all know and sense that Twitter is doing really well at the moment (and rumours of a forthcoming $20m VC round help) – but when I read Mike’s post from last Thursday on the subject I was surprised at just how close to the mainstream this is.

First the chart – their UK growth is phenomenal, and puts the popularity of Twitter in the UK ahead of Twitter in the US (291st most popular site compared with 350th, as measured by Hitwise).

And, for those that need reminding, the vast majority of Twitter use comes via 3rd party clients that don’t get captured in these numbers.

Some of the other things that caught my eye:

  • In the UK they had a ten fold increase in traffic over the last twelve months
  • Celebs are starting to come to Twitter in good numbers: Stephen Fry, John Cleese, Jonathan Ross and Philip Schofield are all there.  (Update: As is Russel Brand whose two updates have got him 7,224 followers)
  • The amount of traffic Twitter sends to other websites has increased 30-fold in the last twelve months

This is real momentum. 

Tamlyn put it this way in the comments:

It’s reached that level of awareness Facebook had two years ago: nearly everyone has heard of it but few have checked it out and nobody really understands what it does or why they would want it.

I don’t remember who, but someone said earlier this week that Twitter will be the Facebook of 2009.  It is starting to look that way (business model challenges included…).

  • nickhalstead

    What interested me was to look at Google search volume for the word 'twitter' as mainstream TV audience in the UK will likely not have a clue what it is, and would be interesting to see how many Jonthan Ross viewers did a search – alas Google insight DB is out of date –

    Also the BBC has had a surge in twitter related articles (mainly related to Stephen Fry + Ross coverage from the show) – but this must be creating a massive mainstream spike. I think the lack of UK SMS is still doing terrible damage but they have made noises that this will soon be rectified.

    But overall I think this is good for twitter + for anyone who has / or is developing twitter related apps.

  • I have to agree. I found it so addicting I deleted my account – more here:

  • Twitter growth is phenomenal and I suggest everyone to take a minute to complete this poll:… (which I'm not involved in in any way… but these guys deserve it!)

    I'd like to point out 2 things about why – IMO – Twitter won't be Facebook, never ever. And that's not a bad thing at all, don't get me wrong.
    Twitter requires much more engagement to make sense and I don't think that the mainstream audience has the time / patience / interest in building meaningful conversations on Twitter. As a matter of a fact, Twitter serves pretty niche interests / segments and I'd be very happy to see it growing strong but still “confined” in those areas. More niches are what Twitter should really look forward to do, but aiming at the Facebook audience (ie ANYONE) simply doesn't make sense to me.

    For sake of the argument, let's also say that the really mainstream websites aren't that much… google, bbc / nbc / etc, ebay, facebook, amazon, etc. But would you dare say that Flickr is mainstream? Hmmm, maybe (let's not only think about the tech world you belong if you read this blog / comment, let's think about real mass phenomenon). Is mainstream? Again, I'm not sure it is if we simply go out of the technorati sphere… So at the end of the day the notion of mainstream varies quite a lot.

    Having said that, long life to twitter! And add me if you fancy, I'm

  • @henryyates – I see your point. Twitter is highly distracting. And if you want to get the most out of it you have to be *there* most the time… otherwise people could carry on with mailing lists and other asynchronous tools.

  • Pingback: Why Twitter can kill Facebook « Random Thoughts by Kevin Dixie()

  • yes, to get value out of Twitter it is seems to be all or nothing at the moment. I imagine there will be 3rd party tools developed that make it easier to dip in and out. Better search/Kosmix type functionality would be good

  • Alan Munro

    I like Twitter. I’m still not completely sure of what it is for but the fact that it is amuses me. With the absence of a revenue model, I still can’t see why VCs would put so much cash into it but, then, maybe that’s one reason why I’m not a VC…

  • Just seen the launch of Filttr on techcrunch – could be just what I need

  • Just seen the launch of Filttr on techcrunch – could be just what I need