I brought this subject up a while back. It's a big one that doesn't get enough attention.
And yesterday we got some stats from Twitter that I'd like to talk about. Dick Costolo gave a "state of Twitter" press conference yesterday at Twitter HQ. Danny Sullivan was there and live blogged it. Here's the part of Danny's live blog that I'd like to focus on:
100 million active users.
over 400 million monthly uniques just to Twitter.com, according to Google Analytics
An active user is a Twitter user that logs into the service. So that means that 75% of Twitter's users don't log in every month.
The press in the audience asked the right question, "why do people behave that way?" and Dick used my mom in his reply:
Fred Wilson’s mom … checks Fred’s twitter stream.
We also got some stats on what the logged in users do.
40% of our active users now don’t tweet, way up from beginning of year. “We’re excited about that. I think that’s super healthy"
And the press asked the same question "why do people behave that way? and again Dick used my family in his reply:
His (fred's) son uses Twitter each day on iPhone and just follows NBA players. “For him, that’s Twitter.” Just reading what people say.
There's a reason why Dick used my mom and my son in his examples. I've been bending his ear about this behavior for years. I see so many people around me who either don't have a Twitter account and just read profiles and search results like they read blogs or people who have accounts and just follow certain people, create lists, and who login to Twitter to use it like an RSS reader.
Let's remember one of the cardinal rules of social media. Out of 100 people, 1% will create the content, 10% will curate the content, and the other 90% will simply consume it. That plays out on this blog, that plays out in Twitter, and that plays out in most of the services we are invested in.
Twitter has 400mm active users a month, 100mm of them are engaged enough to log in, but only 60mm tweet. For years people have made it out like this is a bad thing. It's not a bad thing. It is an amazing thing. Let people use the service the way they want and you'll get more users. Logged out users are users just like logged in users. We should focus more on them, build services for them, and treat them like users, not second class citizens.