Today the Fresh Business Thinking website published an article of mine entitled “Twitter is a Serious Business Tool” which has received more than a little interest, which is great. Over the next days I’m going to elaborate on some of the ideas in the article, and I’ve started with this one because it has raised particular interest with my construction marketing friends. Here’s what I wrote:
… With some simple searching I have found more than 1000 architects and estimate that the UK Construction industry is represented on Twitter by about 20–30,000 active accounts.
I first quoted this estimate (then I gave around 20,000 as the figure) in February 2010 at a construction marketing conference. For the benefit of those who asked, here’s how I first came up with the estimate of 20-30,000 UK Construction people, for you to take a look and see if you agree with me. If you have another, more reliable way of estimating the usage I’d be most interested.
Twitter does not publish figures of the number of user accounts or any other demographic so one has to rely on other companies like Compete.com, Sysomos.com and so on to make some estimates. For this reason these figures must remain broad brush.
1. Total Unique Visitors Per Month
Compete.com shows site analytics for sites like Twitter. In July 2010 Monthly Unique visitors were 28million, 288 thousand, two hundred and three, and had been around 27-28m for the previous four months.
2. UK Unique Visitors Per Month
Of those 28 million or so, Sysomos calculated that 7.87% were in the UK. Look at the article from last summer to see the percentages for other countries and cut down your unique visitors by your target country.
If I do this I get 7.87% of 28,288,203 giving 2,226,281 in the UK. By the way if you know a more recent breakdown please use it – and let me know!
3. UK Construction Unique Visitors Per Month
Next we need to work out how many of these UK users are likely to be in the industries of your choice. I used the UK Construction Industry Overview by Corporate Watch UK March 2004 (couldn’t find anything more recent, but I think the size of the construction industry got considerably larger than that in the late noughties, and has shrunk again since, so it’s a reasonable enough metric).
Corporate Watch says “The UK construction industry … employs 1.4 million people” which is 2.33% of the UK population (currently at approximately 60m). So we can reduce our 2.226m UK population to just 2.33% and get the proportion of those users likely to be in the UK construction industry, assuming the demographic is similar to the total population. This gives us a number of users of 51,872. These are estimated users in the UK, likely to be employed in Construction in the UK.
The final measure I want to use is activity.
4. Active UK Construction Unique Visitors Per Month
When I first made these rough yardstick measures I used Sysomos’ report (as above) to look at active twitter users. Sysomos said that “50.4% of Twitter users haven’t updated their status in the last seven days.” In other words, 49.6% had updated their status in the last seven days. For some twitter users, this is activity. With this measure, we’d have a figure of ‘active users’ of 25,728.
But if you want to be more pessimistic and describe activity as updating in the last two days, Sysomos’ graph suggests that 39% updated in the last day or less. This would give a figure of 20,230 ‘active users’.
There were 28.288m unique visitors to twitter.com in July 2010;
7.87% (i.e. 2.226m) of these were in the UK;
2.33% (i.e. 51,800) of these probably work in the UK construction industry, and
49.6% (i.e. 25,000) of these posted an update in the last seven days, or
39% (i.e. 20,230) posted an update in the last day or less.
Now it is worth mentioning that this figure we have arrived at is probably an underestimate of the number of UK Construction people using twitter, because it is based on people visiting the twitter.com site. Sysomos’ report from November 2009, Inside Twitter Clients, put the proportion of users who use the twitter website to post updates at just 46.79%, less than half. The remainder use third party applications, such as Tweetdeck, tweetie (now twitter for iphone), twitteriffic, hootsuite, and so on. These access twitter via the API (a feed of the stream) so the 53.21% of users using twitter with these other tools won’t register as a visit to twitter.com. For this reason I think that it is an underestimate to say that 20-25,000 UK Construction People use twitter every day/week, it could quite easily be more than that.
It is also important to remember that we are talking about people here, not brands or companies. Many of the twitter users I have met are employed in the UK Construction industry but you might not even know it. Perhaps they are your employees?
Over to You
So how helpful is this? I think it is a limited exercise because in the end the numbers are so large they become relatively meaningless in the general scope of things. What matters is what you do with twitter, that is what will determine whether it is successful for you or not. However, if you want to demonstrate the potential of such a hugely popular tool to a sceptic, these numbers might help.
Right, now lets be bowled over by the size of facebook…