The micro-blogging service Twitter was one of the fastest growing websites last year with an increase in traffic of nearly 1000%, Hitwise UK reports. It has stormed up the rankings of the most visited websites in both the USA and the UK.
In the US, Twitter is now more popular than Digg after gaining a higher market share of visits for the first time last week. This can partly be attributed to the "citizen journalism" of the US Airways Hudson River plane crash last week and other recent events such as the Mumbai terrorist attacks and - of course - Barack Obama's inauguration, but Twitter has been slowly gaining on Digg for a while now. It is now ranked as the 350th most visited site for American Internet users.
Meanwhile, in the UK Twitter was the 291st most visited website last week - compared with a ranking of 2953rd in the equivalent week last year. This is down to a 974% increase in traffic to the site in the past year, and figures are continuing to rise. With these statistics excluding access to Twitter from mobile phones and third-party apps such as Tweekdeck and Twirl, it's clear to see that more and more people are finding Twitter to be the new "in thing". As well as this, the average user now spends half an hour on the site compared with less than 10 minutes a year ago.
Updates from celebrities seem to be one of the driving factors for new users in the UK at least. Any Brits tuning in to the return of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross tomorrow night can expect to see two of Twitter's higher-profile users, Ross and Steven Fry, discuss their newly discovered phenomenon. According to Hitwise, other reasons behind the increases in visitors include more younger users and a large rate of incoming traffic from social networks. The outgoing traffic from Twitter itself has increased to 30 times what it was last year.