Twitter: Billions of Posts, Few Readers

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Twitter has arguably been the biggest success story of 2010, as far as young technology companies go.

The popular social networking site launched a very successful redesign earlier this year and started to make money by allowing businesses to advertise on the site, expanding its user base all the while.

In total, Twitter reports that there were 25 billion tweets posted to the site this year, a truly staggering number when you consider that in March the micro-blogging site finally reached 10 billion total tweets since its launch in 2006. To put it another way: The site saw 10 billion tweets in its first four years, and more than twice that amount in the span of just 12 months.

While impressive for their sheer volume, these numbers do conceal a potentially fatal weakness of the site: It’s flooded with tweets, but few users actually seem to read.

A recent survey from the Pew Research Group found that just 8% of Internet users use Twitter, and about 6% of all Americans do. By comparison, a report earlier this year found that more than 50% of Americans already use Facebook, and that amount has likely increased even more since then.

But the real blow to Twitter is that many of those who say they use the site check it very infrequently.

Of the more than 2,000 adults surveyed, 48% said they check for tweets from other users only every few weeks or less. In fact, more than a fifth of those surveyed said they never look at other users’ tweets. Another 12% of users said they check the site for posts just one or two days a week. Taken together, the vast majority of users (60%) seem to not be very engaged with the site.

For all its growth, Twitter still seems to be a site where some users feel inclined to post, and post often, while many others sign up for the heck of it but fail to engage in the Twitter community. If the site wants to continue growing in a meaningful way, it may need to come up with some new ideas to boost engagement for the casual user.

After all, if someone tweets in a forest and no one is around to hear it, well, what’s the point?

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