As Twitter CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged on the call, there is a “big opportunity” to explore in the size of the platform’s logged out audience – be they people who read about a tweet in a paper or on TV and are compelled to visit the site itself to search for specific content or profiles without ever actually logging in.
Currently Twitter has two problems with the way it serves those people. Firstly, the options are limited as far as user experience is concerned. If you visit a profile when not logged in, you’re greeted with an easily dismissed pop-up encouraging you to sign up – but no other content encouraging you to stay on Twitter.com and explore the platform.
Twitter also hasn’t done anything to date to earn advertising revenue from that logged-out audience, despite the fact that it gets a “great signal” for the type of content they like to consume, Costolo said.
However, Costolo also added that he wanted to make clear that the short-term focus would be on enhancing the experience for logged-in users. That’s reasonable, but it is important Twitter makes it at least a near or mid-term goal to make the most of its sizeable logged-out audience too.
Twitter reported a positive Q2 compared to previous quarters, but there are still concerns about its long-term user growth and how the platform can keep those 271 million users who log in once a month engaged.
Timeline views, Twitter’s measure of engagement, actually fell sequentially in the final quarter of last year. While timeline views have returned to growth, they are growing more slowly than its audience, suggesting that while more people are joining the site, overall people are logging on less often and for less time than before.
In its most recent quarter, timeline views grew 15 per cent year on year to 173 billion, which was up 11 per cent on the first quarter. But it’s worth bearing in mind this was also a quarter that included The World Cup.
So while Twitter continues to enhance the user experience for its most loyal users, it should also be thinking of ways to delight and make money from its more promiscuous visitors – perhaps even converting them to registering. Such a move would give Twitter an opportunity to talk about growth and additive revenue, as it tries to figure out why engagement rates are fluctuating among its core users.
For marketers, these new ad formats could open up an additional scaled audience opportunity to sit alongside their more targeted paid-for Twitter strategies.
It’s undeniable that Twitter has incredible influence beyond the reach of its own platform. The majority of the western world will have seen a tweet in some form (even if it was just that Oscar selfie). Now it’s time for Twitter to start conducting some more control over its wide-ranging reach to address perceptions about its growth problem.