A recently released study (http://www.boxuk.com/blog/twitter-user-demographics) by Box UK analysed data from 83,628 Twitter users gathered during July and August 2009 to determine the profile of the popular platform’s typical or prototype user.

According to our analysis, the ‘average’ Twitter user is a girl in her late teens, who is following 20 to 50 people, and has roughly the same number of people following her back. Her bio/description is quite short, at about 30 characters.

The survey was made complicated by the great number of fake or spam accounts that saturate the platform, along with the limited amount of information Twitter collects from its users. A simple algorithm was used to attempt to separate real users from spam accounts, the results of which was that only about 40%, or 34,334 accounts, from the total survey were deemed real.

Unlike other popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter does not ask its users to specify their sex or age on registration. To grapple with this lack of information, the study compared the first names against US Census Data to determine whether a name was more likely to be associated with a male or female. If the name was gender neutral, the sex that was most commonly associated with the name was assigned.

To determine the age of Twitter users, Twitter was searched for phrases that reference age (such as “I am 23.”). The rate of tweets mentioning each age were used to plot the age distribution.

The survey was conducted by Dan Zambonini, the Technical Director of Box UK. According to Zambonini, “Studying Twitter usage and demographics is important for anyone looking to exploit the ever-growing service, whether for business or personal/social means.”

The study concludes with the suggestion for a rating system that would help Twitter manage the many organisations currently taking advantage of the platform through their spamming of legitimate users. “We can use this kind of Twitter analysis to help identify the patterns of likely spammers. We now need the organisation behind Twitter to start integrating tools or algorithms to make better use of this type of pattern detection and prevention, stopping spammers before they can aggravate a significant number of real users.”

For further information contact:

Amy Thibodeau
Marketing Executive, Box UK
Ph. +44 (0)20 7534 1734

Notes to editors

Box UK (http://www.boxuk.com/) is a team of 50 experienced web consultants and software developers. We are genuinely excited by the new opportunities of the Internet, and inject this enthusiasm into the web projects we build for our clients and the software we develop. Our international reputation allows us the privilege of working with the world’s best people, from the FTSE 100 to international standards bodies and leading organisations across the UK public and heritage sector.

Dan Zambonini is the Technical Director of Box UK. He is the original architect of the Amaxus Content Management System, conceived clickdensity, has participated in industry-shaping think tanks, and has had articles featured in international websites and magazines. He is passionate about making use of the latest technologies in everyday life, and believes people and communities are key to innovation. For more, you can visit him on his personal website at www.danzambonini.com or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/zambonini.

According to Twitter (www.twitter.com), it “is a privately funded start up with offices in the SoMA neighbourhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices.” Recently it has been estimated that there are more than 6 million Twitter accounts.

Published on: 4:43PM on 9th September 2009