Truth about average Twitter user

A new study from security firm Barracuda Labs provides some interesting insights into the state of the Twitterverse. Unfortunately for the microblogging startup, the stats say that most of its users aren’t very active.

The study looked at around 19 million Twitter accounts (PDF) in order to figure out how people are using Twitter. It started with one assumption: an active or “True” Twitter user has at least 10 followers, follows at least 10 people, and had tweeted at least 10 times. By that definition though, only 21% of Twitter users are active users.

There’s a great deal of interesting data in the breakdown. Only 26% of Twitter users had 10 followers or more by December 2009, while only 40% were following 10 people or more (in fact, a majority of Twitter users, 51%, were following less than five people).

In terms of tweets, the report estimates that 34% of Twitter users hadn’t tweeted even once, while a whopping 73% of Twitter’s users tweeted less than 10 times. That means nearly all of the tweets on the social network were coming from about 1/4 of the userbase. Power users dominate.

Barracuda Labs also analyzed Twitter’s growth over time, and the numbers are consistent with previous reports that show while Twitter grew like wildfire in early 2009, it has dramatically slowed down in recent months. Going back further to early 2008, the report estimates that the microblogging tool grew by just 0.31%. However, with the quick rise of media coverage and the influx of celebrities such as Oprah and Shaq, Twitter use grew by 20% in April 2009 before dropping off to 0.34% growth in December 2009.

While the news isn’t stellar, it isn’t all bad for Twitter — these metrics are moving in the right direction. A full 79% of users had less than ten tweets in June 2009, but that number dropped to 73% by December. 80% of users had less than 10 followers in June 2009, but that percentage dropped to 74% by December. If that trend continues, you’ll hopefully see a more diverse and active Twitterverse going forward.