Researchers from the University of Illinois recently published a research paper on the geography of Twitter
that contains some interesting data on general Twitter use. The data, provided by social media data vendor GNIP, reveals that Twitter usage is very concentrated, i.e. a small percentage of heavy users account for a large chunk of the Tweets that are sent.
During the sample period (October 23 – November 30, 2012), 85 percent of all Tweets were sent by the top 15 percent of Twitter users. The top five percent of users accounted for 48 percent of all Tweets, and the top one percent of all users accounted for 20 percent of all Tweets.
Given the nature of Twitter, these numbers don’t come as a total surprise. Apparently many people use Twitter as a news aggregator, a constant stream of information, but rarely actively contribute to the global conversation.