Bad News For Those Looking For More Twitter Traffic

Chris CrumSocial Media

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Twitter seems to have a real user growth problem, and it's scaring away investors. Meanwhile, it's making changes that a lot of its loyal users don't really like, and it's sending less traffic to websites. Simply put, there's not a lot of great news going on with the Twitterverse at the moment.

Have you seen a decline in your Twitter referrals? Do you like the changes it's been making? Can Twitter turn around its growth problem? Discuss in the comments.

Twitter released is quarterly earnings report this week. It managed to hit Wall Street expectations, but those weren't all that great to begin with. As the company once again reported lackluster user growth, the stock tanked. It fell at least 32% year-to-date, and CNN Money named it the worst performer in is Tech 30 index.

CEO Dick Costolo said in the earnings report, “We had another very strong financial quarter. I’m confident in our ability to build the largest daily audience in the world, over time, by strengthening the core, reducing barriers to consumption and building new apps and services.”

Apparently investors aren't as confident.

Twitter reported 284 million average monthly active users, which is up 23% year-over-year, but just 5% from the previous quarter. This number has always seemed unbelievably low considering how much we hear about Twitter in the media, and how big a part it is of many of our lives at this point, but it is the reality.

It's not the only reason, but this is one of the reasons Twitter doesn't come anywhere close to driving the kind of traffic to websites Facebook drives. It's just not nearly as big.

Shareaholic released its quarterly report on social media referrals, and Twitter is tanking in that department as well. While it's still in third place behind Facebook and Pinterest, it's headed in the opposite direction of both of those.

According to the report, Facebook is driving four times as much traffic to sites as second place Pinterest, and Pinterest is pretty far ahead of Twitter, as the following graph illustrates.

See that green line? That's Twitter. It blends in with all the rest of the remaining social networks, and the line is headed downward. Frankly, considering how much traffic StumbleUpon is capable of driving to sites, it's kind of surprising to even see Twitter above it. At this rate, that might not even last, especially now that StumbleUpon has made an adjustment that could actually help website traffic.

Here's another look at the Shareaholic data from a more numbers-driven perspective:

twitter referrals decline

"On a mission to be more like Facebook, Twitter may have lost its way," writes Shareaholic's Danny Wong in the report. "Since September 2013, Twitter’s share has steadily declined from 1.17% (its 13-month high) to 0.88% (its 13-month low) last month. This is a loss of 0.29 percentage points (down 24.97%)."

It's that "mission to be more like Facebook" that has put off some users. It's not entirely clear how much it's really put them off, but there have certainly been plenty of complaints. Earlier this month, Twitter formally announced its new changed that places content in users' Timelines from people they don't follow - content Twitter thinks they'll find relevant. It's hard to say just how well they've been executing this so far.

Timeline views, by the way, reached 181 billion in the third quarter, which is up 14% year-over-year. That's less growth than with the monthly active users.

It's definitely true that the Twitter experience extends far beyond what would be considered monthly active users. Costolo talked about this with CNBC:

We have an aspirational goal to build the largest daily audience in the world. And that audience is comprised of what i would call three geometrically eccentric circles. At the core, you have those 284 million monthly active users who create all the content that is used across the rest of the entire system. In the circle beyond that, you have the hundreds of millions of users who come to Twitter but don't log in. Those logged out users, and we have talked about the size of that audience a little bit...And then thirdly, you have the circle beyond that, which is the syndicated audience. All those users across the web that consume and experience Twitter content in syndication that we have now also added to mobile application syndication with the launch of our mobile app developer kit Fabric.

Fabric was introduced at Twitter's Flight developer conference last week. More on that here.

I would say that we have three priorities with respect to the business in general, and growing that largest daily audience - they're one, of course. Strengthening the core. Growing that logged in, monthly active user base. That is priority number one. Beyond that, when I talk about reducing the barriers to consumption, and helping those logged out users get an experience right away, we have started to execute on that. For example, in the last quarter, we released our mobile profiles experience. And those new mobile profiles have dramatically increased the number of views, the number of engagements, and the number of specifically on media content views on those profile experiences. So we like a lot of the strategy. We have got to grow that logged out audience. Our first bit of work around the logged out audience that comes to profiles has been tremendously successful, and we'll continue to execute on that across the rest of the logged out audience.

What any of this means for website referrals remains to be seen. Furthermore, those monthly active user and timeline view numbers are going to be key sticking points for investors in quarters to come. Hopefully Twitter doesn't make too many ill-conceived changes to the Timeline experience leading to even slower growth.

Twitter did make an announcement this week that could prove helpful to enterprise businesses. The company has partnered with IBM to provide data to various enterprise solutions, and to co-develop new solutions that could help things like customer service, marketing, and sales.

Do you expect Twitter to get things headed in the right direction, or is it on the wrong path? Let us know what you think.

Images via Twitter, Shareaholic

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.