Can New Features Give Twitter Wings?

As you know, despite its seeming popularity, Twitter’s numbers have failed to truly take off. According to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, more than half of Twitter’s 982 million users don’t sign in to the microblogging platform each month. The Wall Street Journal has also reported that 44% of people on Twitter have never even sent a tweet. In fact, Twopcharts sites that, out of those 982 million registered accounts, only 241 million are active monthly users. That means 741 million users have abandoned their accounts or do not tweet on a regular basis. Not only that, but at least 419 million users’ most recent tweets were more than a month ago. 

Bottom line? Users are not actively engaging on Twitter. 

And while some of these inactive accounts may still be tuning into the channel to listen to conversations, that doesn’t really fly for a platform that’s all about being social. 



In an attempt to lure new users and elevate engagement, Twitter has launched a new feature — an “instant timeline.” Introduced about a month ago, this feature enables users to see what’s happening in the twitterverse without first having to follow any users. And to personalize the experience, Twitter has also established a brand new onboarding process that helps generate tailored content for each individual. Steps of this new introduction include:

  • The ability to select categories of interest
  • A prompt to upload contacts so that users can find their friends who are already on the channel
  • Unique analysis of what/who the user’s contacts follow so that Twitter can personalize the user’s “instant timeline”
  • The option to follow some of these suggested accounts

According to TechCrunch, this revamped onboarding process increases the number of people that new users follow by a whopping 190%. Registration completion has also increased by 10%. 

In addition to its new “instant timeline” feature, Twitter has announced several other updates to its platform plus more apps, like Vine, that it hopes will strengthen its core. 

So, why is Twitter scrambling to attract users and inspire engagement while other social platforms’ numbers are soaring? 

Critics have cited a variety of reasons, including difficult user experiences and the inability for novices to successfully navigate the site. And while Facebook has a two-year head start on Twitter, Facebook has about five times the amount of users. Facebook not only dominates Twitter when it comes to users, but it also claims a broader reach across age and gender demographics. While millennials still rule Facebook at 84%, 79% of users are between 30 and 49. And, 60% of users are between 50 and 64. Twitter’s audiences for these age brackets linger at 19% and 9%, respectively.

Instagram is also creeping up on Twitter, claiming 17% of online users compared to Twitter’s 18% (Facebook is virtually unreachable at 71%). In fact, millennials have deemed Instagram the “most important” social platform, according to Piper Jaffray’s teen survey.

While Facebook commands the social world and smaller platforms like Instagram have found their niches and are quickly growing, Twitter remains in a holding pattern, with users who don’t actively engage and investors who are unhappy with recent growth numbers. 

Either Twitter’s new updates will act as a reboot for the well-known channel or it will fall into permanent purgatory with the likes of Google+ and MySpace.

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