State of Social Media 2Q 2015: Twitter Users Plateau

The 140 character social network released its Q2 2015 earnings. Let’s take a look at where the bird has landed this quarter.

Growth

The story in the news is that growth is… lackluster:

Twitter User Growth

Twitter’s growth quarter over quarter was an anemic 0.66%, a gain of about 2 million users. This has caused quite a bit of consternation in the mainstream media; terms such as “turnaround” and comparisons to MySpace, Friendster, and Bebo have been alleged.

Mobile growth mirrors the overall user base:

Twitter Mobile Growth

Mobile users continue to comprise 80% of Twitter’s audience.

Should marketers be concerned with Twitter’s lack of growth? Perhaps, but that’s a determination marketers will need to make on an individual basis. Look in your web analytics at Twitter’s traffic over a multi-year period. Here’s an example:

GA_Twitter

In this particular instance, while Twitter’s overall membership may not have increased, Twitter’s ability to drive traffic to a desired web destination has improved substantially in very recent times.

Ad Revenue

After the cyclical first quarter fall, all social networks tend to see a bounce in Q2:

Twitter Revenue

Despite its user base growth challenges, Twitter notched its highest ad revenue per quarter yet. Of note in the earnings call details is that 88% of Twitter’s ad revenue comes from mobile ads, a testament not only to its user base composition, but also that advertisers have embraced mobile advertising through Twitter.

Investors remain unimpressed, however:

NYSE_TWTR__32_38_-4_18__-11_43___-_Twitter_Inc

Looking Ahead: What It Means For Marketing and PR

Given all of these announcements and details, what should you take away from Twitter’s earnings call?

First, expect advertising revenue and options to continue improving. Twitter’s recent alliance with the Google DoubleClick platform means that some advertisers will be able to manage their ad options through Google’s Doubleclick Bid Manager, helping get paid media synced up. The interim CEO made mention that the integration is not finalized, and so the benefits to marketers can’t be fully realized yet.

Second, Twitter made mention in this set of earnings notes that the TellApart acquisition includes retargeting and email marketing capabilities. If you haven’t already started using Tailored Audiences to leverage the email databases you have, you’ll want to add that as a marketing focus soon. Expect those capabilities to become more powerful. Additionally, the Whetlab integration for big data may already be reaping rewards; more to come in a future blog post on this!

Third and most importantly, Twitter’s big focus now needs to be about user acquisition in a meaningful way. As Twitter’s audience fortunes rise and fall, so do ours as marketers. If interim CEO Jack Dorsey does a great job of getting large scale user adoption, then we’ll benefit from increased reach. Twitter could end up being the insurance policy for social media marketers if Facebook completely takes the rug out from under our feet, from an organic reach perspective.

Should you change your Twitter strategy? If Twitter is working for you – look in your own analytics to make that determination – then by no means should you ditch the platform. If Twitter isn’t working for you, then examine some of the paid possibilities to reinforce your organic efforts. If, after a trial period, you still don’t see results comparable to other marketing channels, then consider reducing your investment of time and money in Twitter. That said, the bird still has wings.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Work at SHIFT

Posted on July 29, 2015 in Marketing, Social Media, Twitter

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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