Exploring the Use of Twitter Around the World

January 2010

In our initial Twitter report published last June, one of the areas that looked at were the countries and cities where Twitter was being used. Not surprisingly, nearly two-thirds of unique users (62.1%) were located in the U.S., while the U.K. and Canada were a distant second and third.

Given how Twitter has much grown over the past six months, we wanted to take a fresh look at global usage to see if there were any major changes. To gather this insight, we looked at our entire twitter repository between mid-October to mid-December, 2009. We aimed to understand twitting activity both in terms of the country/city of origin of each twitter but also in terms of overall twitting activity (how frequently they tweet).

In doing our research, we discovered that almost no one is using the geo-location API tool that Twitter launched last August, with only 0.23% of all Tweets tagged with geo-location. To determine someone’s location, Sysomos uses proprietary technology to infer geography based on user disclosed information which does not rely on Twitter's geo-location API.

Considering the country of origin of twitters, among the most significant differences was a surge in Brazil, which accounted for 8.8% of unique users, an increase of more than four-fold from 2% in June. Twitter users in Indonesia accounted for 2.4% of the population, compared with less than 0.5%, while Twitter users in Germany rose to 2.5% from 1.5%.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. unique users was 50.8%, a sharp drop from 62.1% in June. This suggests that the use of Twitter outside the U.S. has experienced significant growth over the past six months.

Here's a table showing unique Twitter users around the world during the period from Oct. 16, 2009 to Dec. 16, 2009. We explored 13 million unique Twitter accounts that demonstrated tweeting activity in that period.

And here's the same chart from our June, 2009 report.

In addition to looking at the number of unique Twitter users around the world, we also explored the geographical break-down based on the total number of tweets to determine if there were any differences between the two.

The biggest changes are in the U.S., which accounted for 50.9% of unique Twitter users and 56.6% of total tweets, which suggests Twitter users in the U.S. are more active than many users around the world.

U.K. users accounted for 8.1% of total tweets, compared with 7.2% of unique users, while Brazilian users account for 6.73% of total tweets compared with 8.79% of unique users.

As well, we looked at the leading cities in which Twitter is being used. London has the biggest population in terms of unique users with 2.08%, while Los Angeles has 1.63%, Sao Paulo (1.47%), New York (1.44%) and Chicago (1.2%).

The table below shows top cities by the number of tweets coming from that city. New York ranks first in this list with 2.37% of all tweets. Notice New York ranks fourth in the table above which counts the number of unique Twitter users, showing that users from New York are very active.

About Sysomos

Sysomos is the social intelligence company backed by data science that gives businesses immediate context to the hundreds of millions of conversations happening online every day. The Sysomos social intelligence platform continuously decodes these conversations and news stories to give marketers real-time answers about what their customers think and feel. More than 1,400 global brands and agencies including United Health Group, 3M, Boeing, Edelman, Genetech, Marriott and Ogilvy trust Sysomos for their social intelligence. Sysomos has offices in seven cities worldwide, including London, New York, San Francisco and Toronto. 

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