Marketing firm HubSpot will publish a report tomorrow on the state of Twitter at the end of 2008, based on user data the company harvested from its controversial app TwitterGrader. Though the report's methodology is not discussed, the numbers it includes are quite interesting. We draw our own conclusions based on those numbers below.

Days after Facebook posted some incredible new user numbers, it's hard not to use that as the measuring stick. While the media has mentioned Facebook about 4X as many times as it has mentioned of Twitter in the last month - Facebook is not four times the size of Twitter. It is almost 30 times as big and growing much faster.

HubSpot estimates that Twitter has 4 to 5 million users, 30% of which are "brand new or unengaged." They estimate that Twitter sees between five and ten thousand new accounts opened each day. That's a nice number, but it's far below, for example, Facebook's astonishing 600k daily registrations and 140 million active users. Twitter is a fascinating little phenomenon - Facebook is mainstream.

Why is this important for users? Because most of the people you might really enjoy connecting with on Twitter are unlikely to ever use it. They are busy using Facebook instead.


John Q. on Twitter: Not Listening and Nothing to Say


Projecting Current Numbers

If Facebook stopped growing right now and Twitter's numbers were at the upper end of Hubspot's estimates (10k per day) - it would take 36 years for Twitter to catch up. [(135,000,000 more Facebook users / 10,000 new Twitter users per day) / 365 days per year = just about 37 years]

Facebook, on the other hand, grows another Twitter's worth of new users every 8 days. This at a time when everyone from the President Elect to CNN to Shaquille O'Neil to Britney Spears is jumping on board Twitter!

Of course these conclusions require us to believe Facebook's numbers and HubSpot's numbers about Twitter. HubSpot has an economic interest in making Twitter look as big as possible, though, as it's selling marketing services related to Twitter. (Disclosure: this author once did an hour of consulting for Hubspot, as well.)

The logical conclusion here appears to be that Twitter is numerically insignificant.

Other findings from HubSpot's forthcoming report:

  • 38% of Twitter users haven't uploaded a photo of themselves to their profile. This is a far cry from Facebook or LinkedIn's "verified identities" and closer to Digg's bizarre world of juvenile freaks with random handles. The Digg model, by the way, is having a really hard time making any money.

  • 22% of users have 0 to 5 followers. 9% of users haven't even figured out that the point is to follow people on Twitter - they haven't followed anyone at all.

  • There are other numbers in the report that are interesting and not so negative. 20% of Twitter users have joined in the last 60 days, HubSpot says. That means Twitter is, since the end of October, on a pace to double in just under a year.

  • Twitter appears to be used primarily for communicating in small groups. 30% of users are following 5 or fewer other people, 78% are following 50 or fewer.

Our take away? We love Twitter, we use it all day long. It's a fascinating little technology that's interesting to watch and use. It's image far outweighs its numbers, though, and there's no reason to believe that's going to change soon.

You can read the full HubSpot report for yourself below.