Social Media: How many people use Twitter and what do we think about it?

16 06 2013

Twitter logoThe influence of Twitter on the media continues to rise – Gary Hayes’ Social Media Counter (see below) suggests that there are over 4 million tweets a day.  But how much Twitter activity is there in the UK?  The position is not entirely clear.  On 13 June 2013, the Office of National Statistics reported that the UK has the second highest proportion of social networkers in the EU: 57% of internet users said that they used “social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter“.

According to the Internet Access Quarterly Update for the First Quarter of 2013 42.2 million adults used the Internet in the previous 3 months.  This gives an approximate figure for Facebook and Twitter users of 24 million.

How many of them use Twitter in the UK? In May 2012, Twitter was claiming 10 million active users in the UK and 140 million worldwide.  A more recent survey suggested that there are  more than 555 million registered users in the world, with about 288 million being “active” (see Statistics Brain).  Another study suggests that 17% of the world’s Twitter users are in the UK (see Beevolve Exhaustive Study of Twitter Users).  This would give an implausible figure of 94 million registered users and 34 million active accounts in the UK.

A study by Kinetic Worldwide in February 2013 suggested that 28% of all UK internet users are now active on Twitter, up from 13% in February 2011.  This would give a figure for UK Twitter users of something like 12 million – which seems more plausible.

The disparity between the various figures can probably be explained by different views as to what constitutes an “active twitter user”.  It is has been said that 40% of Twitter users have never sent a Tweet (see Media Bistro). About 40% of Twitter users check up on new tweets a least once a day, 17% check between 1 and 5 days a week, 20% less often and 21% never  (see

So in other words, it seems that about 50% of UK Twitter users – 6 million – look at Tweets at least once a week.  But not many of them send tweets and when they do, they do not go to many people.  The average twitter user has 208 followers and 6% of users have no followers at all (see Beevolve Exhaustive Study of Twitter Users).

The polling organisation, Com Res, has conducted an opinion poll dealing, amongst other things, with the public understanding of Twitter. This was, somewhat curiously,  commissioned by the Bible Society.

The results show that the public are divided on the subject of Twitter.  Only 14% are wholly positive – agreeing with the statement that Twitter is “great innovation and builds dialogue in the community“.  Nearly one third – 28% – “don’t know anything about Twitter”.  Of the rest

  • 12% think that Twitter is “egocentric and destroys human relationships”
  • 14% think that Twitter is a “passing trend”
  • 32% think that Twitter has the power to do tremendous good and immense damage.

The full data tables are available for download here: ComRes social media research results.

This is the Counter

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more about “Social Media Use – A Counter“, posted with vodpod



3 responses

7 11 2013
Hashtag how has Twitter changed Journalism? | sianphillips27

[…] have stayed the same or possibly increased as it has been claimed since last year there has been an increase of users on Twitter. These findings show that news organisations and journalists having their own Twitter pages is […]

17 12 2013
Social Media: How many people use Twitter and w...

[…] The influence of Twitter on the media continues to rise – Gary Hayes' Social Media Counter (see below) suggests that there are over 4 million tweets a day. But how much Twitter activity is there i…  […]

27 04 2015
Did newspapers ever really influence elections? | Tom Felle

[…] Despite this, various surveys, including YouGov, showed that engagement and commentary by 18 to 24-year-olds occurred mainly on social networks. That cohort are an age bracket older now, and have been joined by a new group of young voters. About 24 million adults in the UK now use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, with around 42 million people using the internet. […]

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