Marketwired Blog

In Social Media, Numbers are Truly a Game



It’s been a busy week for real numbers.

Twitter and Facebook, it seems, have huge amounts of registered accounts but not quite as many real, live people actually actively participating.

First up, Paris-based analytics company Semiocast announced that Twitter now has 500 million users. However, its counting revealed that just 27% of account holders actually do anything on Twitter. That means, the real number is around 170 million.

That’s a testament to the hype that has followed Twitter over its short history. When Twitter became all the rage, people from all walks felt inspired to open up an account and ride the bandwagon.

However, for all the service’s charms, Twitter is not for everyone.

Some enjoy finding interesting people to follow, posting insightful or funny comments in under 140 characters (and getting a hang of those url shorteners for links) — others can’t get their heads or keyboards around it and leave their accounts to languish.

Meanwhile, over at Facebook, a similar phenomenon is happening. While there are 955 million members, as many as 83 million of these might not be real people. Spammers, pets and duplicate accounts are littering the site.

And this information is not from a third party. Now that Facebook is a publicly traded company, it has to put its cards on the table, and this information was disclosed in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

None of this is really shocking: in the virtual world, anyone can create an account calling themselves just about anything, any time they like.

For users, it’s the beauty of social media: the ability to be anonymous, have fun by starting an account for a pet, or just trying out something new, even if it doesn’t take.

And for these companies, having ghost accounts is hardly a bad thing: they boost numbers and make everyone feel like things are a whole lot busier than they really are.

That’s why, in social media, numbers are truly a game.


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3 Comments on In Social Media, Numbers are Truly a Game

Constantinos Coursaris said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Nice post, Mark. I'm trying to verify the claim that "just 27% of account holders actually do anything on Twitter"; I reviewed the original report (see: http://semiocast.com/publications/2012_07_30_Twitter_reaches_half_a_billion_accounts_140m_in_the_US), and it seems like it was either accidentally misinterpreted (looks like 27% is the US account market share) or you referred to a different report altogether. Could you please let me know if it is the former? Thank you in advance! Constantinos

Mark Evans said : subscriber Report 5 years ago

Jay: I like your ideas, particularly about Twitter having a way for people to display active followers, which would provide a more accurate picture for brands and individuals. Thanks for the comment. Mark

Jay Neely said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Fake users are a huge problem on twitter. Arguably though, real users contribute to the problem by focusing on follower count. I've written a proposal on how twitter could kill a significant amount of spam on twitter by hiding or replacing follower count: http://www.riverinsights.com/social-media-management/twitter-could-kill-a-lot-of-spam-by-hiding-follower-counts/ Would love to get the take of Sysomos / Sysomos blog readers on this.

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