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Typical Twitter user is a young woman with an iPhone & 208 followers

Twitter’s endless funnel of data is producing an equally endless series of studies — including on Twitter itself. The latest study offers fun tidbits about who is using Twitter and why.

In “An Exhaustive Study of Twitter Users Around the World,” analytics firm Beevolve claims to have crunched data from 36 million Twitter profiles. What they found probably corresponds to what you suspected: most Twitter users are young iPhone (s aapl) users from English speaking countries.

Fond of gender stereotypes? The study has you covered: women tweet more than men; gals tweet about family and fashion while guys tweet about tech and sports; women like purple backgrounds while men prefer dark ones:

The most useful part of the study, however, is that it provides a good view of how ordinary people use Twitter. For instance, it reveals that 25 percent of Twitter users have never tweeted, the average number of followers is 208 and that 81 percent of users have fewer than 50 followers:

This is a good reminder that most people don’t use Twitter in the same way as those of us in the media-politics-tech-celebrity-sports bubble. It also appears to confirm BuzzFeed’s John Herman’s theory that “Your Twitter followers aren’t fake, they’re just shy.”

It will be interesting to see how Twitter reaches out to this passive population going forward. I’ve tried to persuade family and friends that Twitter is simply a great news service but they’re skeptical. They think, understandably, that Twitter is a club for loud mouths and ask me, “what would I tweet?”

As for the study, Beevolve CEO Goldee Udani said by email that the firm was “curious about the demographic make up of Twitter user base, topics that Twitter users found interesting at a macro level and how dense was the Twitter social graph compared to known statistics about Facebook.”

You can see the full study, which is presented in clear language and graphics, here.

Feature photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Andresr

18 Responses to “Typical Twitter user is a young woman with an iPhone & 208 followers”

  1. harry_wood

    This has been observed in many online community platforms of varying types. Most people lurk and view the content without participating. Often they’ll register an account, but then chicken out when it comes to adding anything.

    In the OpenStreetMap community we’ve been puzzling over this for years. Why do so many people register on OpenStreetMap (the way to get access in order to edit the map), but then never edit the map? http://neis-one.org/2010/08/„nominal-members“-of-osm/

    As people involved in designing the system and trying to improve usability etc in order to grow the user base, this is frustrating, but it’s a well known phenomenon. Academics call it “participation inequality” http://www.useit.com/alertbox/participation_inequality.html

  2. jay keppers

    This is absolutely rubbish. these monitoring solutions are good enough for making a qualified guess and should not be making such misleading statements. How did they manage an article on gigaom?

  3. This “study” also (and more importantly imho) does not address the better stat of “Who is the typical twitter poster”.

    Analytics can get quite complex on this; Typical user with /n/ influence|retweets|views, longevity, acceleration of followers versus longevity – it’s rather hard to compartmentalize these data.

    (because I’d LOVE to publish a report, app, js, h5 or other tool) I’ve worked with statisticians around Chicago that are nothing but confused when trying to nail down who/what an average (or) typical (or) median (or) normative user would represent, statistically, and this is with collected data of over a billion ‘tweets’. (..not to mention metadata that users never see that developers would).

    I came here in “hopes” that someone could simplify/visualize some of these data in terms of interpreting data, but as with all studies so far on this topic, I’m left with dicke Eier haben, as it were.

    -j

  4. The distinction between the media-politics-tech-celebrity-sports bubble and the rest of us is interesting. I must admit that of the various social media, I’ve found Twitter the hardest to warm up to. Though last year I was a conference organizer and we invited a local newspaper columnist to join a panel on social networking. His key point was Facebook is dead and Twitter rules. As if to prove his point, he was tweeting non-stop the whole time he was on the panel. Then half way through he apologized and said “s*** happens, literally and you’ll read about it in tomorrow’s newspaper”. Then he jumped up and ran out the door. Turns out he was covering a story about a disaster at a sewage pumping station. Rather than being upset, the audience was absolutely fascinated.

  5. QUOTE: “yes, perhaps it would have been more accurate to have used the median ”

    Having an editor look over article or fact checking or understanding statistics would have been more accurate. Do not make excuse for bad reporting. You will do nothing for your reputation.

  6. Scott F.

    This article has a really misleading title, and is a great example of why one shouldn’t make user segmentation assumptions based on averages.

    If you look at the chart in the article, the vast majority of people (81.1%) have less than 50 followers, so we can’t really say a “typical” twitter user is a female with 208 followers. So the title, though enticing, is inaccurate.