Twitter sees big jump in revenue but small jump in audience
Twitter, the popular micro-blogging site, saw a big increase in revenue during the second quarter of 2015, but reported disappointing audience growth.
The company made USD $502 million in the three months to the end of June, up 61 per cent on the same period last year and ahead of previous earnings projections.
Twitter’s monthly active users reached 316 million, representing year-on-year growth of 15 per cent, which is modest by social media standards.
Instagram, one of social media’s fastest growing brands, doubled its users to 300 million in the 14 months to December 2014, although it doesn’t say how often those users access the service.
Snapchat, another up-and-comer in the social space, doesn’t make official announcements about its audience growth, but press reports suggest it may have doubled its monthly active users from 100 million to 200 million in the six months to January this year.
An interesting element of this story for content marketers is that 80 per cent of Twitter’s monthly active users are now on a mobile device. Anyone creating content for Twitter or using it to promote existing content should consider that users will more than likely be accessing that content on a smartphone or tablet.
That might not make much difference to how you craft your tweet, but if you link to pages that are poorly optimised for mobile you risk missing out on conversion opportunities and upsetting potential customers.
Twitter’s growth challenge
“We are not satisfied with our growth in audience,” admitted Twitter’s interim CEO Jack Dorsey, when he presented the company’s second quarter numbers.
Setting out the challenge Twitter now faced, he added: “In order to realise Twitter’s full potential, we must improve in three key areas: ensure more disciplined execution, simplify our service to deliver Twitter’s value faster, and better communicate that value.”
Twitter is a relatively mature social media brand as it approaches its 10th anniversary. It is therefore unlikely to post the sort of member growth its younger, smaller rivals can achieve.
Facebook, which has been around even longer than Twitter, reported monthly active user growth of 13 per cent in the first quarter of this year. Its membership, of course, dwarfs that of Twitter, standing at over one billion.
In order to keep its existing members engaged and reach out to a new audience, Twitter has a number of new products and features in the works:
Live streaming video with Periscope
In January, Twitter paid USD $100 million to acquire Periscope, an app that allows users to stream live video from their mobile phones.
Cynics would say that Twitter used to be where people went to talk about their lunch. With Periscope, you can watch them eat it.
The service has also attracted criticism after some early users were bombarded with abusive comments from people viewing their live streams.
But as brands have started to get on board Periscope has started to look a lot more exciting. In April, a US retailer used Periscope to provide live coverage of the launch of a new fashion range, which created sufficient buzz to sell 90 per cent of the stock in just a few days.
Periscope has been used by an English Premier League football team to give fans live access to a pre-match team talk. A French mobile phone network used Periscope to create an interactive element to a TV ad campaign.
This is a live demo of Periscope on the Ellen Show.
Periscope content is intended to be watched live, so brands need to promote it in advance to ensure they get enough viewers. Once posted, Persicopes can be replayed for up to 24 hours.
Twitter builds its own newsroom with Project Lightning
Twitter has been reluctant to talk about Project Lightning in any official capacity, but some details about its plans have leaked out.
It is understood that the company is planning to launch its own curated news service, with a team of newsroom professionals manually selecting useful and important tweets to provide real-time coverage of breaking news stories.
Kayvon Beykpour, CEO of Twitter’s Periscope, called Project Lightning “Moments” in an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph earlier this month, prompting speculation that the initiative had been formally named.
Whatever it is eventually called, it represents an important step for Twitter as it looks to cement its position as a platform for creating, sharing and promoting important news stories.