Just a few months ago, Twitter seemed unstoppable. We argued all the way back in August 2008 that Twitter’s growth could not be stopped. And for a long time, the numbers agreed with us. Twitter grew 752 percent in 2008, but that was nothing compared to the 1,300%+ year-over-year growth in February and March.
Shaq, Oprah, Ashton and CNN all helped lead Twitter to the attention of the mainstream media and countless businesses. The social media company’s growth threatened Facebook () and even affected world politics.
In fact, Twitter still commands the world’s attention, but part of the reason so many people have turned to it is because it’s perceived to be a rapidly growing platform. Unfortunately, the numbers say otherwise.
What will happen to the Twitterverse when more people are aware of these numbers?
Potential Reasons for Twitter’s Flatline
Figuring out why Twitter won’t grow is the billion-dollar question. If the company can’t find a solution, and soon, it will be forced to try more dramatic moves or even allow itself to be acquired.
We’ve heard many potential reasons for the growth ceiling. Here are the ones that make the most sense to us:
- Twitter’s growth isn’t stalling. Rather, these stats aren’t capturing Twitter users utilizing apps, a growing chunk of the Twitterverse.
- Twitter itself has a limited appeal. Only a small amount of people “have something to say” on a consistent basis.
- Twitter’s user retention rate is famously weak. The issue became public in April 2009, but has yet to be solved.
- For many, Twitter hasn’t hit critical mass. Part of why people are on Facebook is because everybody else is on it. We may still be far away from that inflection point for the common Internet user.
What Twitter Needs to Address
We think the true answer behind the Twitter flatline phenomenon lies somewhere within these four reasons. Twitter apps have grown and have become a larger percentage of Twitter’s user base, but even with that factored in, Twitter still has the other three problems.
Twitter has to find a way to expand its appeal, either by adjusting its image in the eyes of the public or by helping change the public into more rabid content creators. It also needs to work on more effective ways to get those who sign up to tweet long after they sign up.
The company has to address these issues before it can attain an undeniable critical mass that will propel its growth again. Without it, Twitter risks marginalization rather than ascension.