Twitter’s user growth isn’t the only thing experiencing a slowdown.
The tweets that flow across the service every day appear to have stalled during the past year and a half.
The “about” page on Twitter’s website says that 500 million tweets are sent on the service every day. That number is unchanged from November 2013, when Twitter’s IPO prospectus said that “our users create approximately 500 million Tweets every day.”
Back then Twitter had 215 million monthly active users. Today Twitter has 302 million active users.
With Twitter’s user base now roughly 40 per cent larger, the apparent lack of a corresponding increase in tweets per day suggests that Twitter users are not tweeting with the same gusto they once were; perhaps they’re even tweeting less.
The other possibility is that new people are coming on to the service and only reading others’ tweets, not participating.
The plateau in daily tweets could represent another big challenge for Twitter’s next CEO.
Dick Costolo, the current CEO, said last week that he will step down and be replaced by co-founder Jack Dorsey on an interim basis. The changing of the guard comes as Twitter’s stock has contracted and as Wall Street has grown increasingly impatient with the company’s struggles boosting its number of users.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the frozen tweets per day number.
It’s possible that Twitter has simply not publicly updated the number. But with so much public focus on Twitter’s growth right now, it seems odd that Twitter would not update the tweets per day figure if there was an improvement to highlight.
In the past, Twitter has updated the tweets per day metric whenever it hit a nice round number. Twitter said it had 400 million tweets per day in June 2012, for instance, and announced the 500 million tweets per day figure in November 2013.
The fact that Twitter has not updated the latest number suggests that tweets per day have not yet reached 600 million.
How big a problem is that?
Twitter has long acknowledged that a significant portion of its users log on to the service to consume content, that is, to read tweets, rather than to post their own tweets on the service. Twitter makes money from ad impressions, which occur when someone views a tweet or shares a tweet, not when someone creates a tweet — so there’s no immediate financial impact.
And with 500 million tweets already flowing across the service every day, you could argue Twitter already has more than enough content. Twitter’s challenge is making the right content on its service easier for users to find, not creating more of it.
Still, declining engagement is never a good thing for any social media service. Many first-time Twitter users give up on it because they say they’re not sure what to share on Twitter, or they feel that their tweets are not being seen by anyone. Making tweeting less “scary” was among the key issues that Twitter investor Chris Sacca flagged in his 8,000-word manifesto earlier this month in which he laid out his prescription to make Twitter more accessible to the mainstream. Sacca suggested that new features such as daily surveys and questions could entice people to contribute more.
Twitter’s famous rule limiting tweets to 140 characters could also be a hindrance to sharing, requiring too much effort for some people, especially with a growing menu of alternative social media services.
Whatever the cause, the daily flow of tweets appears to have hit a speedbump. The company’s moves over the coming months, as it chooses a new CEO and refines its product, will indicate whether it considers that to be a problem.