An in-depth report at Twitter's Growth 2010, compared with 2009

Dec 2010

How much information do Twitters users disclose about themselves?

In keeping with our efforts to offer insight to the fast-growing TwitterSphere, we decided it was time to see exactly how many details Twitter users are divulging. To put together our report, we examined over a billion tweets and compared to our 2009 study.

Some highlights of our comparison of Twitter usage between 2009 and 2010 include:

  • Users with 100+ friends have increased by three-fold to 21% since 2009.
  • 22.5% of users accounted for about 90% of all activity.
  • 80% users have made fewer than 500 tweets.
  • Justin Bieber is one of top two-word phrases and top name in user's bios.
  • Significantly more users are disclosing their location, bio and web information in Twitter profiles.

To start, we looked at whether people provided personal information within their bios. The number of Twitter users offering this information has more than doubled to 63.3%, compared with 31% in 2009.

As well, 82% of Twitter users now provide a name, compared with only 33% in 2009. Meanwhile, 73% provide location information compared with 44% in 2009, while 45% of users submit a Web site address versus 22% a year ago.

This indicates significantly more Twitter users are comfortable disclosing information about themselves, perhaps suggesting the growing importance of having a public profile on one of the world´s largest social networks. At the same time, the growing amount of personal information available is making it easier for companies to target individuals based on their interests, professions or location.

In addition the information revealed by users, we also took the opportunity to get more insight into the activity of people on Twitter.

How Long on Twitter?

In looking at how long Twitter users have been on the service, one of the surprising discoveries was how many of people have joined this year. From January, 2010 until mid-August, 2010, new users accounted for nearly 44% of the total Twitter population. People who created a profile before January 2009 only accounted for 4.7% of the total population.


When it comes to number of friends that people have on Twitter, only 0.05% have more than 10,000, and only 2.05% have more than 1,000. The vast majority of users - 95.8% - have less than 500 friends.

When we looked at the granular level, we found that number of users with up to 5 friends has decreased considerably from 37% to 21%, and those with more than 100 friends has increased by three-fold to 21%. Twitter users are consuming more updates and perhaps following more people outside their friends circle. This is a significant change from last year.


Only 0.06% of Twitter users have more than 20,000 followers, and only 2.12% have more than 1,000 followers. Meanwhile, 95.9% have less than 500 followers.

Users with up to five followers has decreased from 46% to 32%, while users with more than 100 followers has more than doubled to 16% from 7%. This shows an increased level of connectivity as Twitter becomes more popular and mainstream.

Tweets Made

Of all Twitter users, only 0.18% have made more than 25,000 tweets, while 2.7% have made more than 5,000 tweets. More than three-quarters of Twitters users - 80.6% - have made fewer than 500 tweets.

Total Tweets

A small hard-core group (2.2%) have accounted for 58.3% of all tweets, while 22.5% have accounted for about 90% of all activity.

Followers vs. Average # of Friends

In looking at how many followers that someone has compared with how many friends, the follower-friend ratio is fairly even until about 1,050 followers. Then, the numbers start to skew with the number of followers starting to significantly outpace the number of friends.

For example, someone with 1,050 followers has an average of 1,003 friends. A person with 1,500 followers only has an average of 1,137 friends, while someone with 5,000 followers will have 3,711 friends. It is interesting, however, to see the ratio become balanced again when someone has 10,000 followers, they will have an average of 9,636 friends.

Friends/Followers Ratio

When looking at the friend-follower relationship, the numbers are fairly balanced throughout with a few exceptions.

The Most Active Tweeters

In looking at the most active tweeters, it appears that many of them are automatic feed generators.

The most active tweeter is qanow (@qanow), which has posted more than 366,000 tweets. Among the few real people on the list are Mike Hanes (@mikehanes), an IT recruiter who has made more than 300,000 tweets, and Dustin Labarge (@dustinlabarge), a writer who had done more than 117,000 tweets.

Bio keywords

Within the bios of Twitter users, the most popular keywords are love, life, music, follow, Twitter, world, live, student, know and girl.


Sysomos analyzed more than a billion tweets generated by over 20 million Twitter users in 2010. This included bio, web site address and location information (both textual and lat / long) disclosed in their profile pages.

Our previous study published in June 2009 analyzed 11.5 million Twitter accounts, including the indexing of user profiles, status updates and other details.

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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