There are two statistics that stand out in Twitter’s S-1 IPO filing about who actually uses the service:
- There are 218 million total monthly active users.
- There are only 49 million users in the U.S.
For comparison, Facebook had 800 million plus users when it went public last year. It now tops 1 billion. (Put another way, Facebook has roughly added an entire Twitter in just the last year.)
One reason Twitter is so much smaller than Facebook is that Twitter is more concerned with celebrities and the media than it is with ordinary folks.
In Twitter’s description of its user base, Twitter makes it clear that the service is for anyone who wants to follow the news … but the company called out some specific types of people who use Twitter (emphasis added):
Our users include millions of people from around the world, as well as influential individuals and organisations, such as world leaders, government officials, celebrities, athletes, journalists, sports teams, media outlets and brands. Our users create approximately 500 million Tweets every day.
The word “celebrities” occurs eight times in the Twitter S-1. To be fair, S-1 statements often contain repetitive language as the sections within it tend to repeat information taken from elsewhere in the disclosure. But Facebook only mentioned celebrities once in its S-1.
In Facebook’s S-1, the company described its users this way (emphasis added):
We enable people who use Facebook to stay connected with their friends and family, to discover what is going on in the world around them, and to share and express what matters to them to the people they care about.
So basically, Twitter is more for celebrities and the media — the elite — while Facebook is for friends and family.
That’s an oversimplification, of course.
But the numbers indicate how consumers and advertisers might use Twitter and Facebook differently. Twitter is of little interest to many ordinary people, even in the U.S. Many don’t “get” it. But a certain type of person uses Twitter a lot: People who need to communicate publicly a lot, or who need to know about news as soon as it breaks.
Celebrities, public figures and media types thus over-index as heavy Twitter users.
From that perspective, Twitter is almost a business medium rather than a mass medium.
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