Courtesy of the Guardian:
Social network has suffered from stagnating users, according to figures it publically reveals, but third-party data suggests that the real story is worse still.
Twitter’s American userbase may have fallen by a third over the past two years, according to figures from third-party analytics firm 7Park Data.
The figures contradict Twitter’s own numbers, which report a 25% growth over the same period.
7Park says that Twitter’s second social network, Vine, has also suffered falls, declining to less than three-fifths of its April 2014 install base.
In that month, Twitter was installed on 36.1% of US mobile devices, according to 7Park, while Vine was installed on 5%. Today, that has fallen to 25% and 2.9% respectively.
The company’s weekly active users, the number who open the app each week, has fallen too, from 15% to 10.5% for Twitter and 1.7% to 0.8% for Vine.
The situation is just as bad when worldwide users are taken into account, with Twitter’s penetration falling from 30% to just over 22%.
Twitter itself reports that 80% of its active users are on mobile, which suggests the mobile decline could be broadly representative of the company’s overall usage. It also, however, says that 79% of its accounts are outside the US.
According to the company’s own figures, its count of monthly active users has risen over the period that 7Park records a decline. In April 2014, Twitter reported 255m monthly active users, while in its most recent quarterly results, in September 2015, it reported 320m users.
There are a number of potential explanations for the discrepancy. One is that Twitter’s growth in monthly active users could have come from real users who have declined to install the mobile app. These users would not show up in 7Park’s data, which is drawn from a panel of mobile users who have agreed to share app usage data.
Another possibility, which bodes less well for Twitter, is that the growth in Twitter’s monthly active users comes, not from a sizeable increase in real people logging into twitter, but from an increase in bots and other automated accounts.
It could also be that 7Park’s data is less than representative, as it is dependent on the demographic of people who will agree to share information about their app choices in exchange for free data-usage apps.
We’ve asked Twitter whether any, or none, of these interpretations are correct. It has yet to respond.
Byrne Hobart, the lead internet analyst at 7Park, said: “There’s a core set of Twitter users who remain passionate about the product, but Twitter’s efforts to grow their audience – through apps like Vine and Periscope, and through new features like Moments – have largely fallen flat.”
Twitter has been battered in the stock market for its stagnating user figures, which have officially hovered around 300m for the past year, disappointing investors who hoped that the company would someday grow to a Facebook-toppling, billion-plus members. In response, the company has attempted to change the narrative, focusing instead on its large number of non-logged-in visitors, who come to the site to passively browse the feeds of celebrities, find out about news events and, Twitter hopes, use products such as news service Moments.