Twitter exceeds MySpace in unique visitors

Ronny Kerr · September 29, 2010 · Short URL:

Still a far cry from reaching Facebook-like numbers, Twitter nevertheless cementing its position

TwitterNever forget the classic mantra of the social media world: out with the old, in with the new.

Twitter has overthrown MySpace from its number three spot on the list of most visited social networking sites, according to new data from comScore Inc. Growing by 76% from a year before, the popular microblogging site saw nearly 96 million unique visitors in August, just enough to inch past the 95 million unique visitors to MySpace in the same period. The News Corp.-owned social site actually dipped 17% in visitors from a year before.

The new third-place titleholder registers 370,000 new accounts a day, according to Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner.  

Only Facebook and Microsoft’s Windows Live Profile saw more unique visitors, reaching 598 milllion and 140 million respectively. (It’s debatable whether the latter should really be included on this list since it it’s more about the Web-based email client than the social aspect.) Facebook surpassed MySpace in early 2008 and shows absolutely no signs of giving up its seat at the top anytime soon.

In the past year, MySpace has been working on the double to bring its aging social network up to speed. Last December, the site not only hopped on the real-time bandwagon by launching a suite of APIs but also finalized its acquisition and integration of social media music service imeem, further bolstering MySpace Music.

More recently, MySpace has relaunched with a whole new site design intended to play more to the site’s strong points: music and games.

“Any comparisons between MySpace and other Internet services are irrelevant as MySpace’s mix of offerings is uniquely different and specifically focused on audiences under the age of 35,” said Rosabel Tao, a MySpace spokeswoman, in a statement.

Twitter too is in the midst of rolling out an elegant and efficient redesign that could attract more visitors. It’s important to note that comScore’s data does not take into account users who only access Twitter via third-party applications like TweetDeck.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.