December 11, 2008

Twitter Followers Spiking As Service Increases Momentum

This holiday season, there's a little something in just about everyone's stockings, it seems. A buttload of Twitter followers. Whether it's due to the microblogging service's increasing visibility, its adoption by some famous users, or new utilities like Mr. Tweet that recommend new followers, it looks like users are seeing an ever-increasing number of followers per day - in the hundreds per day for the most visible accounts, and rates approximately 3-10 times the average growth for many smaller accounts, as tracked by Twitter statistics site, TwitterCounter.

TwitterCounter is a simple service that tabulates your number of followers, and shows how that number has changed over the last 7 days, but more revealing is the site's details box, which shows how many followers the user had when first tracked, their average growth, and how many they had in the last 24 hours. In almost every single case, of those I checked, from household name A-listers to random followers I see on the site, statistics are up, way up. And the rate has only been increasing over the last seven days.

Steve Rubel, a week or so ago, noticed the spike, saying, “Twitter is on fire. I am adding 200 followers per day.” A member of TwitterCounter for almost six months, Rubel has added about 33 followers per day, but has seen activity on his feed accelerate. According to his stats page, he has added nearly 500 followers in the last week, including almost 100 yesterday. And his growth is not alone.

For example, my own data had about 13 followers per day opting in to my feed, according to the last six months worth of information at TwitterCounter. But in the last week, I too have spiked up, adding more than 300, including almost 80 yesterday, and 70 the previous day, well ahead of normal. It's made the confirmations that fill up my e-mail each morning to be pretty close to overwhelming.

In May, I wrote that Web Service Notifications Outnumber Live Bodies In My E-Mail. But with a continued explosion of services, and so many of them getting even greater adoption rates, the percentage of automated notes is driving ever higher - Twitter being the most notable. So while I get my daily updates from FriendFeed, BlogRize, Strands, Socialmedian, Facebook and all the other networks, it's Twitter that is booming and driving the highest aggregate activity.

Take a look at how some others are seeing similar spikes in Twitter following activity:

Duncan Riley: Average Growth: 7 Yesterday: 43 Weekly: 99

Robert Scoble: Average Growth: 97 Yesterday: 224 Weekly: 1,339

Gabe Rivera: Average Growth: 7 Yesterday: 77 Weekly: 250

Jesse Stay: Average Growth: 16 Yesterday: 78 Weekly: 519

Guy Kawasaki: Average Growth: 127 Yesterday: 353 Weekly: 2,593

Steve Rubel: Average Growth: 33 Yesterday: 94 Weekly: 452

All statistics and images are via

As mentioned, this rise could be due to many things. Maybe people are growing increasingly comfortable with following a higher number of Twitter users. Maybe this is due to automation and matching utilities. Could be a combination of all these things. But I would be willing to bet that Twitter is stepping on the gas in terms of going viral. With the service's troubling summer and downtime issues largely behind it, users are finding it's safe again and inviting others to come join the real-time blabberfest.

Are you seeing a spike in your in box as well or is this a false positive? What do you think is driving the surge?