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Data on Twitter Decline Stacks Up

Tweeting no more? First, spectacular growth. Then a summertime slowdown.

And now, in fall 2009, US traffic to is declining.

According to data provided to eMarketer by Nielsen, traffic to was down a dramatic 27.8% between September and October 2009, falling to 18.9 million unique visitors. Nielsen is the latest in a list of research firms reporting declines at comScore said unique visitors were down 8.1% in October, while Compete reported a 2.1% decline.

It has not been unusual to see wide shifts in Twitter trafficreadings among Web measurement firms, and different methodologieslikely account for the varying visitor counts. But one thing is clear:traffic to the Website is declining month over month aftera period of huge gains.

The decrease in visitors could mean either falling interest inTwitter or simply migration to other platforms, such as third-partyapplications and mobile access.

Crowd Sciencedata from August 2009 indicated 43% of Twitter users accessed theservice through third-party applications, and 19% through SMS. RJ Metrics noted a drop in share of tweets for the Website versus other sources between June and July 2009. TweetStats reports that around 30% of daily tweets come from the Website in mid-November 2009.

Rising smartphone adoption and the popularity of mobile Twitterclients is another point in favor of migration. The Nielsen Companyreported that Q3 2009 was the first quarter in which more than one-half of mobile Internet users were accessing the Web via smartphone.

“While it’s valuable to look at Twitter’s Web traffic, the truepicture won’t emerge until all the third-party traffic from mobilephones and API clients is accounted for,” wrote senior analyst DebraAho Williamson on the eMarketer blog.

eMarketer estimated in September that 18 million US adults would use Twitter by the end of 2009.

With traffic to dropping, and users continuing to access the service through apps, that projection remains on track.

Credit: Emarketer, November 20, 2009