State of Social Media, 2Q 2017: Twitter Fails to Grow Users

Twitter, the 140-character stream of what’s happening now, surprised everyone by reversing its Q1 growth and falling flat – literally – with no quarterly user growth. Let’s see what else happened in their Q2 earnings.

Audience Growth

We see the surprise below: 0.0% growth from quarter to quarter for Twitter’s monthly active users:

Twitter, during its earnings call, said that their analytics are subject to high seasonality. With that in mind, let’s look at year-over-year growth, per quarter:

Above, we see some indications that the worst might be over; Twitter’s year-over-year growth this year has been better than the same time periods in 2016. The litmus test will be Q3 growth; Twitter needs to show strong growth year-over-year then.

Ad Revenue

On the revenue front, things don’t look great for the blue bird. On a quarter-over-quarter basis, Twitter showed a mild 3% improvement over Q1:

However, if we examine Twitter’s data through the same lens of seasonality, we see that 2017 has not been a banner year:

Its average revenue per user is still well below the gold standard benchmark of $2/user.

Looking Ahead: What It Means for Marketing and PR

Twitter noted in its shareholder letter that the fastest growing area has been in data sales; with this in mind, expect that any competing forces which could undermine data sales growth would be quashed by the network. This presents a potential quandary to marketers; Twitter’s open data stream forms the backbone of most social media marketing and influencer marketing measurement. If Twitter were to pull back strongly on data availability, we could expect to see a number of social media influencer tools take a functionality hit.

Given this backdrop, it’s essential for all marketers and communicators to continue building and growing their own databases of influence. When the day inevitably comes that data is restricted (by legislative fiat as much as by corporate policy), that will be all marketers have to rely on.

Otherwise, our guidance remains largely unchanged from previous quarters. Twitter is still the best choice for major events, conferences, and the news of the day. Twitter should remain a part of your digital marketing mix if major events, news, and conferences are part of your marketing mix as well.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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