The microblogging service Twitter is exploding. Celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and everyday users are flocking to the service. In a cleaver marketing plan, Ashton Kutcher (Twitter name: aplusk) gathered more followers than any other Twitter user. His 1.5 million followers are more than CNN’s 1.2 million. Other notable Twitter users include Britney Spears (1.2 million), The Ellen Show (1 million), Barack Obama (944,000), New York Times (733,000), Oprah Winfrey (666,000), Al Gore (654,000), The Onion (615,000), John McCain (510,000), Skateboarder Tony Hawk (496,000), Time (437,000), Jet Blue (426,000), Amazon MP3 (304,000), and, of course RichmanLarry (143).
eMarketer estimates there were roughly 6 million Twitter users in the US in 2008, or 3.8% of Internet users. They project that the number will double next year and tripple the year after.
Nielsen.com ranked Twitter as the fastest growing member communities site in February 2009. Twitter had a growth of 1,382%, compared with Zimbio‘s growth of 240%, and Facebook‘s growth of 228%. By all measures, Twitter is growing quickly.
Comparisons of figures reported by Nielsen Online , Compete, and comScore show anywhere from 7-14 million unique visitors to Twitter for the month. And the number of Twitter users is considerably greater than the number of visitors to the site, because of the multiple access points for the service (for example, mobile devices and desktop applications).
What’s driving this phenomenal growth? Twitter’s CEO says Twitter “makes people smarter and faster and more efficient.” While I agree, my personal experience with Twitter is that you have to manage it wisely to not be overwhelmed by an overload of information. I’ve found you have to manage new technologies wisely or they can turn into more of a burden than a benefit. I’ve had to limit the people I follow to not be inundated with tweets that are less than helpful. I don’t follow people who tweet “I just finished eating” or “Guess it’s time for bed.” I do follow people who limit their tweets to sharing occasional epiphanies and links to helpful information.