While Twitter’s UK revenues jumped 110 per cent last year to £91 million, the growth in its user base has been rather less spectacular.
You could argue that the discrepancy is down to the fact that Twitter has only recently started to monetise its product. However with the number of UK users appearing to plateau at around the fifteen million mark (a significant number that suggests it has reached maturity), the company has embarked on a two-pronged attack in order to entice more people to use the site and to continue to attract more advertising revenue.
At a technology day at Goldman Sachs last month, Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo reiterated some announcements that he had made a few months earlier in an attempt to keep the investors happy.
Along with group direct messages, video within Twitter and a pop up of what users might have missed since they last used the service is the test of a service that automatically populates a timeline for new users to avoid them just having an empty news feed. Anecdotally, this, and a lack of awareness of which new people should follow, puts many users off.
While Twitter already offers the opportunity to follow any of the contacts on your smartphone who also use the social media platform, it will now pull additional data from your phone that it will analyse and create a longer list of people and topics that you might find useful. So, for example if the majority of your friends like a particular sport then it will assume you do too and will create a list of related accounts.
For new users it represents an improved user experience. But equally as important is what the new services means for people the company describes as ‘logged-out users.’ Some 500 million strong, this universe consists of people who do not actively use Twitter but see tweets around the web (for example through tweets embedded in news stories). If it can’t (yet) convert these people into active users then it wants to make their exposure to Twitter as good as it can be.
Twitter has been attempting to monetise this passive audience of Twitter readers who are not Twitter users for some time, evident by its deal with Google to make tweets more searchable online. To the surprise of some the company claims that this audience is worth two-thirds as much as those who are active users – despite the latter providing content and data that is far richer than the former.
Either way, the move seems to indicate that Twitter thinks it is more mainstream – and therefore of wider appeal to advertisers – than its active user numbers seem to suggest.