So, How Many People are Actually on Twitter?

Twitter has been nototiously tight-lipped about exactly how many of its 100s of millions of accounts are active. They, understandably, don’t want it to get out that only a small percent of Twitter accounts are actually being used by real people. New data from eMarketer sheds some insight on the true number of active Twitter users – and it’s probably smaller than you think.

Earlier last year, Pew Internet and American Life Project released some demographic information about Twitter users, and found that about 8% of American Internet users were on Twitter.

The new report by eMarketer comes up with similar numbers.

The firm estimates that 20.6 million US adults will access Twitter at least once a month this year. This is up about 26% from the 16.4 million who accessed Twitter monthly last year.

eMarketer also predicts that by 2013, about 28 million US adults will be on Twitter, actively using it at least once a month.

According to the US Census Bureau, the current population of the United States is about 311,000,000. This means that, according to the numbers from eMarketer, about 6.6% of the population uses Twitter. However, the percentage of adult population on Twitter would be higher, likely around the 8% numbers from Pew.

So what does this mean?

It’s pretty clear to anyone on Twitter that it reaches just a fraction of the US population, and it certainly isn’t nearly as large as Facebook. However, if you see Twitter as a place for influencers, its still-niche status is something that adds, not detracts, from its power. It also has a significant international presence, and its diversity and global reach is part of the reason it ha become such an influential technology.