Although the number of monthly visitors to the microblogging site, Twitter, has fallen 14{e687baaf48fa2ca637c17bb22051ce9aecb92ccd4945200ce42671fd868d8aba} over last year, according to Experian, Americans are spending considerably more time using Twitter, making shorter, more frequent visits to the site.

What are the implications for this major social media channel? I have a few thoughts about what the research means:

Twitter users now have a smaller, tighter group of followers with whom they interact.

Users are likely looking for information about who is replying to or re-tweeting their own messages. Shorter, more frequent visits to the site suggests not only high levels of engagement with others on the platform but also that users have a very specific goal or purpose to logging on multiple times.

Tools allowing us to access and sort the information streams on Twitter are getting better–or, we’re getting better at using them.

Users accessing Twitter via agents like Tweetdeck or Seesmic can sort through specific information quickly and get at data more efficiently than in the past. While the tools to search for specific topics or hash tags have been around for a long time, I see this as a sign that the overall level of literacy surrounding how to navigate Twitter’s “fire hose” of information has measurably improved. Users who don’t need to hunt for relevant information may explain the shorter and more frequent visits to the site. Improved search may have indeed shaped behavior.

Twitter’s audience has not only become smaller than last year but has become more engaged.

This research suggests an increased propensity of the network to attract people who want the latest breaking news or are looking for subject matter expertise.

While I think the data about time spent on the site is a great sign that the network is one of the best places to learn specialized information and to connect with experts, this implication gives me the biggest cause for concern. Have we gotten to the place where it’s likely that most of the people who will join Twitter have already joined?

Has Twitter failed to make itself more accessible for the broader population that hangs out on Facebook? It’s clear that Twitter has found an audience, but is that audience large enough for it to remain viable?

Twitter continues to be a useful tool allowing businesses to enjoy a high degree of personal engagement with prospects, customers, stakeholders, employees, and potential hires. Experian’s recent research showing changes in usage signal a maturation of the platform’s users.

Note: This is an old post, with out of date info.