Twitter's Share of US Social Network Users Is Dropping - eMarketer

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Twitter's Share of US Social Network Users Is Dropping

US usage will grow just 2%, instead of 8% previously forecast

August 15, 2016

In its latest forecast of US Twitter usage, eMarketer has significantly downgraded its projections amid nearly stagnant growth reported by the company in Q2. By the end of this year, 52.2 million people in the US will access their Twitter accounts at least once a month. That's a 2.0% increase over last year.

US Social Network Users and Penetration, by Platform, 2015-2020 (millions and % of total social network users)

In February, eMarketer forecast an 8.0% increase in US Twitter users for the year. eMarketer has flattened its growth estimates for the next four years; Twitter will add just 3.6 million users by 2020 instead of the 13.9 million previously forecast. As a result, it will lag behind the growth of social network usage as a whole.

“Twitter continues to struggle with growing its user base because new users often find the product unwieldy and difficult to navigate, which makes it challenging to find long-term value in being an active user,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco. “Also, new product initiatives have had little impact in attracting new users.”

This year, Twitter will capture a 28.1% share of social network users in the US, a decrease from 2015. In fact, eMarketer now expects Twitter’s share of social network usage to continue to decline through 2020, whereas it had forecast in February that its share would continue to increase. Twitter’s declining share is largely due to social platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and messaging apps hurting Twitter’s growth prospects more than previously expected.

“To keep itself competitive, Twitter should play to its strengths,” says Orozco. “It has had success with live broadcasting and should continue to make deals to stream sports and political events. Video is now the No. 1 ad format in terms of revenue. By continuing to invest in video, particularly live video, Twitter could potentially begin to more successfully monetize and grow its user base.”

While Twitter’s challenges in growing its user base extend to every age group, eMarketer has made the largest adjustment to its growth projections among the 12-to-17 range. Twitter usage within that age group will remain virtually stagnant through 2020. Twitter’s total growth this year of 2.0% is slower than that of its older, more mature competitor Facebook, which will grow its US user base 2.9% this year. By 2020, Facebook will add 15.2 million users in the US, while Twitter will add just 3.6 million.

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