Twitter has seen a fresh growth spurt over the past six months even as the company struggles to find a way to make money from its fresh influx of users.
Both the number of users and their tweets of 140-character updates has been rising sharply, driven by news such as Osama bin Laden’s death, big events including the Uefa Champions’ League football final and general interest in celebrities such as pop star Justin Bieber.
A survey by Pew Research Centre found that Twitter usage by American internet users aged 25 to 44 doubled between November 2010 and May 2011 to 19 per cent. An average of 13 per cent of adult American internet users now use the site, according to Pew, up from 8 per cent six months ago.
Pew records internet users’ perceptions of their own behaviour, although indications of a fresh acceleration in Twitter’s growth was supported by research house ComScore, which recorded a 47 per cent increase in unique visitors to Twitter’s website in the year to April, to 123m people globally.
Analysts believe that 300m people have signed up to use Twitter since its creation in 2006, although the company will confirm only that it has “more than 200m registered accounts”.
Aaron Smith, analyst at Pew, said: “It is a tool that has a low barrier to entry – it’s amenable to using on your mobile device and it doesn’t require you to register if you want to dip your toe in the stream.”
As Twitter expands with new products such as a photo-sharing service, expected to be announced this week, it is also under pressure from investors to harness the revenue potential of its new users. Until now only a limited amount of advertising has been shown on the site. Mobile phone usage has been one of Twitter’s biggest sources of growth, according to one person close to Twitter, who said that PC use was flattening out.
Pew found that half of US Twitter users access the service from a mobile device.
The volume of information posted on the site also continues to grow, with about 1bn tweets every six days.
Last week during the Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona, Twitter reached its second highest spike at 6,303 tweets per second, more than double the record set during the football World Cup last summer but behind the peak of more than 7,000 during new year’s celebrations in Japan.