Twitter Use Growing but Still Not Mainstream

Got Twitter? Be careful: HitWise numbers prove that it's addictive even as the researcher calls the site niche.

One indication that Twitter is mainstream came from San Francisco April 25, when Forbes high-tech writer Dan Lyons, whose nom de plume is Fake Steve Jobs, frequently made fun of the micro-blogging service during his keynote at the Web 2.0 Expo.

But Twitter is not quite yet mainstream, according to new numbers market researcher HitWise published April 29.

Though the company said in a report that visits have more than doubled in the last three months, and traffic rocketed up 60 percent in the past month, the site ranked only 439 among social networks and forums last week and 4,309 among all categories of Web sites.

"Twitter's size is notoriously difficult to measure as there are so many access points (mobile phones in particular)," wrote HitWise analyst Heather Hopkins. "However, the Web site traffic data does give some idea of the rate of growth and also reveals that the service still hasn't reached mainstream adoption."

Still, Twitter visits are up eightfold since April 2007, according to Hopkins, whose report may be reviewed in full here.

Regardless of HitWise's designation of Twitter as a niche site, Twitter has become the premier Internet crack pipe. Users frequently visit and return to the site from computers or mobile phones to leave brief but typically fun 140-character messages on their Twitter pages for their followers and friends to read and respond to.

Journalists follow celebrity bloggers such as Robert Scoble and Michael Arrington and public relations people follow journalists, such as Fake Steve Jobs.

Many pundits are mulling over enterprise uses for Twitter. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has told eWEEK the company has no enterprise plans for the service, but that isn't stopping people from incorporating the service into their daily, 9-to-5 routines.

Dave Carter, CEO of enterprise social network site Awareness, told eWEEK at the Web 2.0 show that he uses Twitter to leave scheduling and other information for his staff.

Indeed, enterprise use is typically a shorthand version of popcorn information bites that users might leave on LinkedIn. These are not planned but iterative from users' frequent posts.

For example, a blogger or journalist might post what show he or she is attending and then return to post Internet sticky notes about a keynote or some other happening. Bloggers and journalists can then follow the Twittee to inform how they cover or, in the case of public relations people, pitch a story.