With Tribalytic we are building a comprehensive near real-time database of Australian Twitter users.  We’ve passed a major milestone in our beta this week with our crawler now up and running.  We’ve collected 130,000 Australian Profiles so far which is a reasonable sample, so I though it would be interesting to break down and analyse this.

The first (and hardest question) is “How many Twitter users are there in Australia?”.  This report suggests that as of January 2010, 2.39% of Twitter Users are based in Australia.  If we take the recent figures from Chirp of ~105,000,000 Twitter accounts (and for convenience let’s ignore the growth), then this gives us near enough to 2.5 Million Australian Twitter users.  Lucas Ng had a figure of 679,000 over 12 months ago so given Twitters growth the 2.5M number feels about right.

Our crawler still has a way to go!  Still – with 130,000 (~5%) accounts sampled, we can draw some interesting figures.

Before we go any further though, let’s clarify “Twitter User”.  More literally this is a Twitter Account.  Keep that in mind – personally I’ve got four accounts that I manage.  Many businesses will have an account so you can’t map these figures to the Australian population exactly (although I will for some comparisons).  Sometimes even dogs have accounts.

Which State in Australia has the most Twitter accounts?

There is no real surprise here – as would be expected, the most Twitter accounts are in NSW.  Note that I’ve excluded the Northern Territory because the sample size was so small (for the record, we’ve got around 230 accounts to date in the NT).

Which State tweets most like “real” people?

This gets a little more interesting.  One of the key components of Tribalytic identifies who behaves like a real person as opposed to a bot.  Turns out there is a higher percentage of real people in Canberra than anywhere else!  While the differences are fairly slight, it’s not surprising that NSW has the lowest figure here (and that’s not a dig).

I suspect that the greatest number of corporate accounts would be based in NSW and therefore we’ll see the highest level of bot type behavior here.  It would be great to see this turn around, but while many corporate Twitter accounts are glorified RSS feeds, it’s not that surprising.

Country Vs. City

Firstly I’ve used a very loose definition of country here i.e. you’re not in the state capital.

I’ve graphed the estimated number of City and Country Twitter accounts as a percentage of the respective populations (i.e. % Twitter accounts in the City per City Population and % of Twitter accounts in the Country per Country population).

One thing jumps out here.  It’s immediately obvious that there are much fewer Twitter accounts in the country.  In fact you’re 9.5 times more likely on average to use Twitter if you’re from the City than if you’re from the Country.  This varies by state with Queensland and Tasmania having the highest percentage of country users, a fact that probably reflects their relatively high city based populations that aren’t in the state capital (for example, a lot of Queenslands population is urbanised on the Gold Coast or in Tourist Centres, while much of Tasmania’s population outside of Hobart is in Launceston)

The ACT is really an anomaly in this graph and should be ignored – the “country” population is so small the figure is inflated.

Projected total Twitter accounts by State

So combining the statistics from Tribalytic with the estimated total number of Twitter accounts of 2.5M we end up with the following estimates of the actual number of Twitter accounts in each state.

The final question worth asking is how does this compare to population?  You’ll have a hint at that in the previous graph comparing country and city, but it is much clearer below.

The ACT jumps out again.  My suspicion is this reflects the politicians being engaged with Twitter as well as lots of Government accounts.  I suspect this would inflate the number of accounts against the actual population.  Again, Twitter appears to be a largely urbanised trend – with engagement generally mirroring the population by state, with the obvious exception of Canberra.

You could make a case that Victoria is “slightly” more engaged with Twitter than NSW, but this difference is very low and could just be a sampling error.

I’m no statistician, so I make no promise there aren’t errors in this data, but from what I do know, our sample should be large enough to give a reasonable margin of error.  If someone would like to help me work that out that would be great.  There are of course some assumptions in terms of the total users, but the actual % splits by state are based on “hard” data of the 130,000 accounts we are tracking to date.  Don’t forget that an account doesn’t always equal a person either.  The likely number of actual people operating a Twitter account in Australia would be lower than the number of accounts.

So there you have it, some current estimates on Twitter usage in Australia, broken down by State.  Let me know what you think and please feel free to register for the Tribalytic beta – we are gradually releasing beta accounts to selected people from time to time.