Data suggests retail investors are starting to enter again

Quick Take

  • While this rally has been driven by institutional capital, retail investors are starting to show up again
  • We look at the data for Google searches, Twitter followers, Wikipedia views and exchange web traffic
  • There is a noticeable uptick in all of these indicators but most are not even 50% there compared to 2017

Unlike all the previous rallies, it’s commonly accepted that the current price rise, which has seen the price of bitcoin go from ~$10,000 to more than $40,000 in only three months, has been driven by the entrance of institutional money.

In H2 2020, MicroStrategy acquired $1.13 billion, Ruffer Investment bought about $744M, MassMutual another $100M, and finally Square around $50M. Macro investors Paul Tudor Jones and Stanley Druckenmiller also publicly supported Bitcoin and said that they have allocated money. Guggenheim’s $5B Macro Opportunities Fund filed an amendment with the SEC to allow it to gain exposure to bitcoin by investing up to 10% of the fund’s net asset value in GBTC.

But what about retail investors? While there are no perfect estimates of retail involvement, there are several proxies that can be used to estimate the number of new users and general interest. Based on the data across several metrics, retail investors are entering the space again but the amount is still much smaller compared to during the turn of the year 2017.

Google search interest

Google searches for “Bitcoin” have peaked in 2017 during the week of December 17. In the week of January 3, people are searching for bitcoin nearly 70% as much as during the 2017 peak.

During the week of January 3, Google searches for “Ethereum” have surpassed the peak of 2017 by more than 25%.

Source: Google Trends, The Block Research

In terms of relative interest, Bitcoin is still dominating. People are searching for Bitcoin more than five times more than for Ethereum.

Source: Google Trends, The Block Research

Twitter followers

Tracking new Twitter followers of top cryptocurrency exchanges can also give us an idea of how many new participants are joining. Of course, it’s also possible that the same retail investors are re-entering again and therefore can’t follow an account twice. But historically, this has been a reliable metric.

The number of new Twitter followers of top exchanges peaked in the first week of December with about 250k weekly. There is a noticeable uptick in recent weeks but the total number of new followers is still only ~70k, which is about 27% of the peak in 2017/2018.

Source: Social Blade, The Block Research

Wikipedia views

Wikipedia views of the Bitcoin page also jumped during the last week to 240k weekly views, which is only about 16% of the top in December 2017.

Source: Toolforge, The Block Research

Web traffic

Web traffic on cryptocurrency exchanges saw another consecutive monthly increase of 23.5% in December. According to data from SimilarWeb, cryptocurrency exchanges (both spot and derivatives) recorded a total of 196.2 million website visits in December — a new all-time high since The Block Research started to record web traffic in April 2019.

Source: Similarweb, The Block Research


It’s becoming clear that despite the rally being driven by institutional capital, retail participants are starting to enter. We will continue to monitor these metrics in the coming months. You can track the Google searches, new Twitter followers, and Exchange web traffic dynamically on our dashboard.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.