Mediatwits #121: Does Twitter Have a Growth Problem?

    by Fannie Cohen
    May 9, 2014
    Growth of active users diminishing, year-on-year. (Souce: Quartz)

    Proclamations of Twitter’s stumble toward oblivion poured out this week after the employee stock lockup expired on Tuesday. The market reacted with a 12 percent dip in the stock’s price. This could be signaling a lack of confidence from inside the company, or it could be the natural ebb and flow of employees cashing in on their options, which accounted for a stunning 82 percent of outstanding shares. For many it was yet another stop on Twitter’s downward trajectory. But despite anemic user growth, ad sales are up 119 percent this year, bringing in $250 million in revenue, and growing much quicker than most anticipated.

    Twitter’s growth has been plateauing lately, leaving many to wonder if users are starting to move elsewhere. The platform currently has about 255 million active users worldwide. For perspective, Twitter is trailing behind the wildly popular WhatsApp’s 500 million active users and Facebook’s 1 billion active users. In the U.S. more adults use Pinterest than Twitter.

    We’ll be discussing Twitter’s health with special guests Shel Israel, who writes The Contextual Beat for Forbes, and was an early adopter to Twitter and author of Twitterville, Jeff Bercovici from Forbes who extensively covers Twitter hullabaloo, and Twitter power user Felix Salmon from Fusion.


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    Andrew Lih is a new media journalist and associate professor of journalism at the American University School of Communication. He is the author of “The Wikipedia Revolution” (Hyperion 2009, Aurum UK 2009) and is a noted expert on online collaboration and journalism. He is a veteran of AT&T Bell Laboratories and in 1994 created the first online city guide for New York City (www.ny.com). Follow him on Twitter @fuzheado.

    felix (1)Felix Salmon is the Senior Editor at Fusion. He was formerly the financial blogger for Reuters. He was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 Best Financial Bloggers, and offers his frank view on the maneuverings of Wall Street, Washington and popular culture. Watch him on Felix TV or follow him on Twitter @felixsalmon.


    Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 1.23.40 AMShel Israel is co-author with Robert Scoble of Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data & the Future of Privacy and is currently collaborating with Porter Gale on a sequel, with the working title of Pinpoint Marketing. He currently writes The Contextual Beat column at Forbes and provides bylined editorial content to many companies of all sizes. Israel has been part of the Silicon Valley community since 1979. A self-described, “recovering publicist,” he has consulted over 100 start-ups, during his 20 years as a PR professional, which he sold to employees in 2001.

    jeffJeff Bercovici is a senior editor at Forbes where he covers tech, digital, social media. Follow him @Jeff Bercovici.


    The ability for anybodys to converse with power users–celebrities and self-made Twitter phenoms alike–makes Twitter an exciting, unbalanced scene. Consider that the median number of followers of Twitter is one. This puts the onus on the power users to keep us coming back for more. Power users and those aspiring not only need to maintain their followers, they need to get more. Twitter must grow, it has committed to its shareholders.

    Twitter’s founders wanted the service to be shaped by its users, and thanks to us, we have the #hashtag. Twitter’s enactment of egalitarian speech is its core competency, but it seems most people opt-out of the conversation and just observe. And in an egalitarian Twitter, that’s fine, and welcome. But since not all Twitter users carry the same influential weight, is looking at active users an effective measurement for viability?

    Fannie Cohen is the managing producer for the MediaTwits Podcast. Her work has appeared on WNYC New York Public Radio and SiriusXM. You can follow her @yofannie

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