Let's be real: Twitter isn't what it used to be.
2017 was a bad year for the micro-blogging platform. The platform had a slew of bad press during the 2016 elections, concerns about abuse and bullying have grown, and—during 2017—the platform grew by a mere 4 million new users. By comparison, Facebook grew by a huge 72 million users during this time.
But not all is bad in the Twitter world. In fact, the company turned a profit for the first time ever in Q4 2017, and again in Q1 2018. Further, the company's stock price has doubled over the past year, so they must be doing something right, right?
In this article, we'll discuss if Twitter is still a valuable marketing tool in 2018. We'll also discuss some of the reasoning behind the network's financial growth during the past two quarters and if that translates to good marketing.
2015 to 2017 were dark years for Twitter
Like stated earlier, the social network gained just 4 million new users from Q1 to Q4 2017. Just five years earlier during Twitter's "glory days", the network grew by a whopping 48 million users from Q1 to Q4 2012.
In fact, Twitter's user base has stayed relatively stagnant since Q1 2015 where the platform had 302 million users. In Q4 2017, the network had 330 million users worldwide, gaining just 28 million users worldwide over nearly 3 years.
So why is Twitter doing better than ever financially?
As of Q1 2018, the network has 336 million users after gaining 6 million from Q4 2017 to Q1 2018, so clearly, Twitter is back on the right track and its financials are reflecting that.
But marketers should take these numbers with a grain of salt. Nearly all of Twitter's growth is international. Looking at Twitter's U.S. growth numbers, the social network has been fluctuating between 68 and 69 million monthly users since Q1 2017. Nearly all of the network's recent growth has been in international markets.
Aside from new international users, other reasons for this sudden financial growth are Twitter's newfound commitment to fighting abuse and spam on the network. For example, the social network recently updated its API to fight spam and boasted that it's identifying almost 10 million spammy accounts per week.
Further, the social media giant is cleaning up inactive accounts, so follower counts are more accurate. Latest stats show that nearly all Twitter accounts are affected by this change, with some accounts losing up to 70% of their followers due to inactivity.
This shows that Twitter is taking security and abuse seriously again, something the social network badly needs to do. They still have a ways to go, but investors are obviously seeing the efforts. We're hopeful that this leads to more user growth in the near future.
How Twitter users are using the social network
Twitter today is different than it was in year's past.
In the past, Twitter was used by friends and professionals and for conversation and networking. This was (and largely still is) big in the technology and marketing spaces. Nowadays, we're seeing the network be used for different reasons.
For example, now more than ever we're seeing Twitter be used to share and comment on news stories (abet with caution).
74% of Twitter users and 11% of American adults reported using the social network to get their news fix in 2017, and we assume that the number will keep rising in 2018. This creates huge incentive for publishers to post to Twitter—especially since Facebook keeps punishing them.
Twitter also noted that users are using the network to find "new and interesting" things. Make sure your brand is consistently posting high-quality and unique content that catches the eye of the Twitter world. More importantly, focus on video content as videos are 6 times more likely to be retweeted than an image.
Further, Twitter is still huge for tech support. Read our guide on running a Twitter support team if your brand is just getting started.
Should my brand still use Twitter in 2018?
Yes, but be active elsewhere too.
Just because Twitter's growth is slower than the early 2010's doesn't mean it isn't worth your time. Your audience is still checking Twitter, tweeting support tickets and feedback, and looking for your brand's announcements and sales.
Even better, Twitter's ad prices have decreased by over 50% per engagement. Use this to your advantage and strategically target your ads to those using Twitter frequently. Consider toying with video ads for increased engagement too.
All in all, do your best to use Twitter's bad times to your advantage. We're confident that engagement numbers will rise again with the company's newfound commitment to fighting abuse, spam, and scammers on the platform.
On the other hand, Twitter's growth is still slower than in year's past. Make sure your brand is pushing full speed ahead on more engaging networks like Instagram and Facebook too.
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