Disclaimer: Because the company isn’t exactly forthcoming with registration data, calculating Twitter’s userbase is as much guesswork as it is science, so take this analysis with the usual hefty pinch. That as it is, there is some history here, so bear that in mind too.
As you may have seen, Facebook has been tipped to reach one billion active users in August of this year. That’s an absolutely amazing number – approximately 14 percent of the world’s population. What’s even more impressive is these are active users, Facebook’s definition of which is people who log in at least once a month. Which doesn’t seem particularly active, to be honest, but this has essentially become the industry standard now.
So how does Twitter compare?
Officially, Twitter has 100 million active users – again, members who log in at least once a month. Which makes the platform about an eighth of the size of Facebook. This was back in September – obviously, Twitter has been growing since then. There’s certainly no reason to assume that the membership is shrinking or even flatlining.
But what about total users?
In April of last year, Katie Stanton, Twitter’s vice president of international strategy, announced that the platform had 200 million registered accounts. In May, independent Twitter account tracker Twopcharts pegged the total registered accounts number at 300 million. In August, this figure had risen to 362 million, and it passed 400 million a couple of months later. Twitter also confirmed that they were receiving 400 million uniques per month in September.
At the time of writing, Twopchart’s number is now up to 462 million and change – which is some acceleration, as it means 100 million new profiles have been registered in less than five months. And Twopcharts is predicting that Twitter will reach 500 million registered profiles in 44 days and 10 hours, which means that Twitter should hit that milestone on Sunday, February 26, 2012.
Or, approximately, and given how everything seems to be speeding up, sometime before March.
Now, again, this isn’t hard and fast science. And remember that this is total registrations on Twitter, which includes all the abandoned and suspended accounts, plus worthless fodder such as spammers, bots and Justin Bieber fans. As an overall number, it’s indicative only of how many people have signed up for Twitter. But it still has some value.
For example, it allows us to make an approximation on how many total active users Twitter has now, given what we know about the relationship between these numbers in September. In that month, Twitter had 100 million active users, and around 362 million registered profiles. So, about 28 percent of Twitter’s registered members were active. This means that, all things being equal, Twitter now has around 127 million active users (27.6 percent of 462 million), and in March this number should have risen to 138 million.
Remember: an active user is someone who logs in to Twitter at least once per month. Nothing more, nothing less.
And before this sounds too impressive, it’s worth noting that back in September I estimated that Facebook, which had 750 million active users at the time, likely boasted 1.875 billion total registered users. All things being equal, that number should be up to two billion on Facebook by now, and is on course to reach 2.5 billion by August. Or, if you prefer to look at it another way, about 37 percent of the world’s population. Which, however you feel about Facebook, is mindblowing.
Still, Twitter is going places, and by my calculations should have around 900 million registered profiles by the end of 2012, and 250 million active users. Sure, it’s long way short of Mark Zuckerberg’s baby, but it might just be enough to change the world.