Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Twitter Photo-Sharing Went Through the Roof After Twitter Started Hosting Images

Midway through last year, Twitter started offering its users a built-in service for sharing images. As might have been anticipated, this had a deep impact on third-party image hosts like Twitpic and Yfrog, which had previously dominated Twitter photo-sharing.

But even more significant was the tremendous 2011 jump in photo-sharing on Twitter, period.

After seeing some month-to-month data pulls, we asked the folks at social search engine Topsy to look at Twitter photo-sharing trends over the course of the full year.

The number of photos shared on Twitter grew 421 percent over the course of 2011, by Topsy’s count. In December, Twitter users shared 58.4 million photos.

Twitter doesn’t disclose a ton of stats that could be used for comparison, but photo growth seems to far outpace growth in active users. Active registered users grew 82 percent between January and September, according to the company.

In September, Twitter shot through the other providers’ market shares, felling former leaders Twitpic and Yfrog. Twitter’s default “Twimg” hosting service now accounts for 65 percent of photos posted, up from virtually nothing in January.

As you can see in the chart above, Yfrog’s total number of images posted on Twitter was halved in the short time between September and December 2011.

But up-and-comer Instagram and Lockerz (formerly Plixi) are doing more than withstanding Twitter’s impact. Both grew significantly last fall. That’s particularly impressive because Instagram is currently only available on the iPhone.

(Topsy arrived at its numbers by resolving links to photos found within tweets. Twimg, Twitpic, Yfrog, Instagram and Lockerz are the only “significant” Twitter photo-hosting sites, according to Topsy co-founder Rishab Aiyer Ghosh. Former social photo giant Flickr had about only 100,000 images posted on Twitter per month, Topsy data found. Topsy posted the top tweeted images of the year here.)

Another interesting sidenote is that Twitter doesn’t actually operate Twimg. The photo hosting is outsourced to Photobucket, which used to be owned by Myspace but is now independent. When I talked to Photobucket CEO Tom Munro in June, he said Twitter was Photobucket’s first paying image-hosting customer.

Munro didn’t get into the terms of the deal, but he said that Photobucket generally charges based on the number of images uploaded and the amount of bandwidth required to serve them.

A spokesperson for Twitter said the company has a policy of not commenting on third-party data.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”