Twitter's retention problem in six charts
You’re going to see a lot of numbers about Twitter today, its IPO day, and most of them will have dollar signs attached. It’s harder to come by numbers related to Twitter’s actual demographics. The company has been coy about releasing them, and it takes a lot of digging for third parties to bring them to light.
However, Amsterdam-based PeerReach, a startup that measures social influence, has assessed its database of 130 million active Twitter accounts to get a better insight into what the texture of Twitter’s reach looks like. In a blog post published today, PeerReach identifies growth opportunities for Twitter in international markets and among young users, even as some other growth numbers don’t seem too hot.
Here’s what PeerReach determined with its statistical analysis.
Twitter’s active tweeting user numbers aren’t growing (much)
Twitter has noted that its active monthly user base has increased from 218 million to 235 million from July to October this year. However, PeerReach’s analysis suggests that its monthly active tweeting users has
stayed flat at 114 million users increased only slightly to 117 million users (update: Since publication, PeerReach has revised this number; margin of error of plus or minus 3 million users).
What’s more, PeerReach’s calcultations suggest that daily active tweeting numbers have
declined from 42 million to 40 million grown from 42 million to 45 million over that three-month period (update: Since publication, PeerReach has revised this number; margin of error of plus or minus 2 million users).
It also estimates that new accounts signed up have dropped from 30 million in July to 25 million in October (also with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 million users).
It should be noted, however, that there is a difference between “active user” and “active tweeting user.” As of 2011, a full 40 percent of Twitter users did not tweet at all, according to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.
Twitter needs to do better at monetizing its international users
As the New York Times has pointed out, Twitter could do a better job of making money from its users who live outside the US. About three-quarters of Twitter’s revenue came from outside the US in the third quarter of this year, despite the fact that the US accounts for only a quarter of Twitter’s user base.
As PeerReach’s figures show, Twitter has enormous reach in Japan, the UK, Southeast Asia, and Brazil.
In terms of Twitter penetration – calculated by number of monthly tweeting users relative to total number of a country’s Internet users – you can see that non-English-speaking countries top the charts. Saudi Arabia leads the pack, with a Twitter penetration rate of 32 percent, followed by Indonesia, Spain, and Venezuela. Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are two countries known for high mobile Internet use rates, as opposed to traditionally desktop-oriented Internet markets such as the US and the UK.
Twitter has a pretty even gender split worldwide. Until you get to India, where Twitter is a man’s world. Not much to add to this, but, look: graph!
Teens dominate Twitter
Much was made of Facebook’s recent concession that it was losing teens. Perhaps it’s because they’ve all run to Twitter. People aged 10–19 years old account for 43 percent of Twitter’s users, according to PeerReach, while twenty-somethings make up a further 37 percent of the userbase. Basically, if, like me, you’re older than 30, you’re way out of touch with what’s happening on Twitter. Go listen to compact discs and watch re-runs of “Charles in Charge” instead.
In five Asian countries, the percentage of Twitter users who are in their teens surpasses 60 percent.
Twitter might have a retention problem
Of the 80 million Twitter accounts registered in the last three months, only 3 million turned into daily active tweeters, according to PeerReach. Of all the accounts registered in July, 56 percent had not posted a single tweet by October 25. Only 8 percent tweeted more than 50 times.
PeerReach's figures identify key areas for the newly public Twitter to target. The company needs to get savvy on internationalizing its money-making strategies, and it especially needs to work on keeping new arrivals interested in the service. The good news is that it seems to have teen momentum. There is plenty of opportunity for Twitter ahead, but these figures suggest it may not ever reach Facebook's billion-users scale.
[Illustration by mkhmarketing]