Happy 5th Birthday @Twitter: A look at Twitter’s growth by the numbers

Five years ago today, Twitter’s @Jack published the very first Tweet, the first of billions of Tweets that would eventually change the way millions of people share, learn, and communicate. While other news media (Twitter included) report that Jack’s first Tweet simply stated, “inviting coworkers” – the first tweet on record by @jack actually read, “just setting up my twttr.” That same Tweet was published by all employees at a time when Twitter was actually known as Twttr.

In five short years, the service has come a long way, earning a reported 200+ million users (and bots) and a market valuation of $8 – $10 billion.

What’s far more eminent however is not everything Twitter’s attained to date, its promise and legacy lies in all that it has yet to fulfill. Not only will it continue to change how we discover and interact, Twitter will continue to shape culture, the nature of relationships, and also further democratize business and media to revolve around the EGOsystem. The global real-time water cooler is changing the dynamics of media and “we the people” are now becoming part of the story. Perhaps where we will see Twitter’s greatest impact is in the cooperation between societies and governments. Any network that can bring an audience to an impassioned voice on demand will overpower any organization’s attempt to suppress it. Twitter’s inherent ability to unite voices, engender empathy and trigger action is nothing short of #revolutionary.

To mark the occasion, let’s take a look at Twitter by the #numbers:

It took 3 years, 2 months and 1 day to hit 1 billion Tweets. Now it only takes 1 week for Twitter to syndicate 1 billion Tweets – although most of them lately will probably include mentions of Charlie Sheen, Rebecca Black, or Justin Bieber ;)

In February 2011, daily Tweets averaged 140 million (140 FTW) almost 3x the 50 million Tweets sent every day this time last year. On March 11th in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, Tweets flew to 177 million.

On New Year’ Day 2011, 4 seconds after passing midnight in Japan, a new Tweets Per Second (TPS) record was set at 6,939.

While the exact number of users is elusive, Twitter reports that 572,000 accounts were created on March 12, 2011. 460,000 new accounts were created each day on average in February 2011.

Mobile use of Twitter is booming, growing 182% in the last year.

In tribute to Twitter on its fifth birthday, I would like to toast Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Dick Costolo, along with all my other friends including Ryan Sarver, Chloe Sladden, Erica Anderson, Sean Garrett, Carolyn Penner, et al. Cheers!

Update: Twitter debuts a new video to commemorate the occasion…

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook


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  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.gregoire79 Chris Gregoire

    The question is, How many people are left on twitter, and how many are simply bots? i have tried to start several conversations, and many never happen, because I’m dealing with Bots. If twitter wants to continue to survive, it needs to find a way to cut down on bots.

    And where’s the news gone? During the Japan Earthquake and the Egypt explosions, there was great news. Now we start shooting things in Libya and there’s nothing?

  • http://www.socialnerdia.com Esteban Contreras

    Cheers to the @twitter team indeed!

  • http://scottmonty.com Scott Monty

    Happy birthday, Twitter! I still like Stephen Colbert’s suggestion for what the first tweet should have been (with a nod to Samuel Morse) “What hath God twought?” (see 2:14 of the video for reference)

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Oh man Scott!

  • http://www.twitter.com/pinkolivefamily Susan Kang Nam

    Thanks Brian for this post ~ and reminiscing on Twitter’s growth via your stats here is pretty memorable. Can’t wait to find out how mobile will have impact in how we all share and communicate esp. in Asia. Happy 5th Birthday Twitter ~ Here is to next 5 years! All the Best, Susan @pinkolivefamily

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  • http://twitter.com/NabehaL Nabeha Latif

    Awesome post :) Now the challenge is to find the right way of marketing on twitter without making people feel that their privacy is at stake ..

  • http://twitter.com/sukhjit sukhjit

    Wow! 5 years and such an incredible impact in such a short time. My hope is that people still feel the true community and connections that were possible when it was still a small base of people tweeting.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Hi! Yes…to me, as big as it’s getting, it still feels small. But I suppose that has everything to do with whom I follow! :)

    • http://twitter.com/sukhjit sukhjit

      I love that! AND I love the fact that I’ve had the chance to connect with friends like you because of tools like Twitter! Keep up the awesome work.

  • http://www.SandySpeaks.com Sandy Harper

    Thanks for the great article and video, Brian. I was only half-joking when I thanked @twitter for the addiction today! I’ll admit I’m a Twitterholic and I’m proud to be one. It has connected me with some amazing people, brought incredible opportunities my way, and is my news source. It has made me laugh & cry all in the same day!

    I can still remember the first day I jumped on almost two years ago. I thought, “There is NO WAY I’m getting involved in that. It would get on my last good nerve!” Now… I can’t go a day without tweeting and soaking up the wisdom and humor of those I follow!

    Happy Birthday, Twitter! I wish you many more years of followers!

    With Gratitude ~

    Sandy Harper :-)

    • Miriamefry

      I agree!

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  • Sunilkumarvaish

    hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

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  • http://blog.adminitrack.com/ Adminitrack

    Great article and video! Loved the view from space!

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  • http://profiles.google.com/healthtechnologypp Health Technology Professional

    WOW, I truly cannot believe Twiter’s been around five years!

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  • Rockey

    I can’t believe Twitter has been around for five years already!! I just recently got introduced to it while in my Social Media class at school. Twitter may not be my favorite mode of social media, but it still has the potential to make a difference, like how everyone came together and tweeted when the catastrophe hit Japan. Thanks for all the analytics! It’s always interesting to see something laid out in numbers. I look forward to reading future blogs!!

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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