State of Social Media, 3Q 2017: Twitter Restates

Twitter, the 140-character stream of what’s happening now, surprised everyone with a measurement disclosure. Let’s dig into everything they announced.

Audience Growth

We see modest growth below, as Twitter adds an additional 1.23% quarter-over-quarter growth in monthly active users:

Twitter now addresses 330 million users around the world; their presence is largely international. Only 69 million of those users are in the United States.

When we look at comparable quarters from years past, we see a 4.1% increase in Q3 growth from Q3 of 2016.

Twitter’s growth remains low compared to its peers, but it’s stable.

Let’s turn our eyes towards revenue.

Ad Revenue

Ad revenue increased a modest 2.86% quarter-over-quarter. Overall, Twitter’s ad revenue is still down compared to its all-time highs in 2015:

We see its year-over-year quarterly revenues are still negative, but the negativity appears to be mitigating:

In its earnings letter to shareholders, Twitter claims it is on a path back towards growth; based on the above, that appears to be true – albeit slowly.

Implications for Marketing and Communications

The disclosure in Twitter’s Q3 earnings announcement was a restatement of numbers. One of their data sources caused inflation in previous quarters’ numbers. Based on our own research, the variance is not significant; for 2017, we’ve adjusted Twitter’s data by 0.6% downwards on average. While major media outlets made quite a fuss about the disclosure, it’s so small as to be barely statistically relevant.

In the shareholder letter, Twitter stated that not only are advertisers seeing more efficiencies (lower cost of engagement, higher clickthrough rates), but advertising on the platform was easier. Their focus remains on video advertising and streamed video content.

Given recent movements from other networks to throttle either visibility or data, Twitter remains the sole major platform that exposes its data for analysis. Their focus on data sales in Q2 and Q3 has not caused a strategic change in the data they make available to the public. While Twitter data has well-known, well-documented biases, it’s still far more open for analysis than other social networks. Most influencer analysis still relies heavily on Twitter data.

Our guidance remains largely unchanged from previous quarters. Twitter is still the best choice for major events, conferences, and 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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