Changing growth patterns point to a changing future for Twitter. In the US, the site has passed the early-adoption mark and is settling into a pattern of more mature growth across demographic groups. By 2016, more than 25% of internet users 12 to 44 will use Twitter at least once a month, according to new figures from eMarketer.
eMarketer increased our estimates for US Twitter users in 2014 from 41.6 million users to 48.2 million, since our previous forecast was developed before the company’s November 2013 IPO. This increase is a reflection of the company’s own user data released at the time, as well as the site’s garnering new users in Q4 2013 in light of its announcement to go public. However, because of the jump in users in the near term, eMarketer also lowered our expected growth rates through 2018. Growth for overall US Twitter users will dip below 10% in 2015, slowing to 6.4% overall by 2018.
Twitter’s future value is contingent not only on its number of users, but also on the number of users engaging with its ads—and older users are more likely to do so. For all of the concern about teens using Facebook (or not), internet users 12 to 17 have and will retain the second-highest Facebook penetration rate, trailing only 18- to 24-year-olds.
With Twitter that’s not the case. Percentagewise, 25- to 34-year-olds are more into the service than teens, and in 2014, they’ll also represent nearly double the number of users—10.4 million in 2014, compared with just 5.5 million. Furthermore, by 2018, the percentage of 35- to 44-year-olds who use Twitter will nearly match the percentage of teens who do—29.1% for the older group, compared with 29.7% of teens. On Facebook, the percentage of teens using the site monthly currently outpaces the 35-to-44 group by nearly 15 percentage points, and eMarketer expects that gap to remain steady over the next four years.
A maturing user base means that steep growth is in the rear-view for Twitter in the US, which fuels marketplace concerns that Twitter is not growing fast enough on the heels of a recently launched IPO. But a well-established user base can also be a less volatile user base, and Twitter’s maturing users not only in numbers but also in age could influence its advertising revenue potential.
eMarketer bases all of our forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.
In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all our forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.