How Many People Really use

When Twitter announced changed to its API last week – and effectively told developers to stop making Twitter clients – they claimed that 90% of Twitter users access official Twitter apps each month. However, marketing company Sysomos questioned this figure, which contrasted with their earlier findings that the majority of Twitter users access Twitter through third-party clients. So, how many people really use, and what do the numbers mean?

Sysomos has been collecting stats on how people use Twitter for some time, most recently releasing data from 2010 which suggested that 2.2% of Twitter users create 60% of all tweets. And while that might jive with Twitter’s official stats, their June 2009 findings that 20% of Twitter users accessed Twitter through third-party platform TweetDeck don’t.

In response to last week’s assertion from an official Twitter rep that 90% of users use an official Twitter app on a monthly basis, Sysomos did a little statistical digging.

They sampled 25 million tweets on March 11th, 2011 to determine who was using what client to access Twitter. And they found a bit of a discrepancy compared to Twitter’s official claims.

42% of the tweets they collected came from a non-official client, which is more than four times the amount that Twitter indicated.

Sysomos concedes that their data looked at tweets, while Twitter’s looked at users – and many users might be using official Twitter apps on a very infrequent basis, tweeting only once or twice a month but still adding to that 90% figure.

It’s clear that Twitter is trying to squeeze out third-party dashboards and clients, and instead get developers to focus on building apps that focus on Twitter publishing tools, analytics and brand insight, curation, and real-time search functions – apps that don’t simply present tweets to users, but instead provide some value-added service.

Twitter wants to create a consistent user experience, and they want to do this on their own with official apps across the web, mobile and other platforms. Despite the fact that Sysomos’ numbers show a significant portion of Twitter users still accessing Twitter through non-official third-party apps, the company clearly wants to own this space in the near future.