Support Marketplace

Twitter may change metrics to reflect a wider audience

This is Prince Harry sending out his first tweet.

Some 255 million people log on to Twitter every month. That’s lot of people, but the number’s not growing fast enough to satisfy some investors. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports Twitter may unveil new metrics to convince investors that the world of people who engage with Twitter is bigger than the world that logs on.

“When you’re analyzing a social network, there are only two things that you care about,” says Shyam Patil, senior internet research analyst at Wedbush Securities. “The number of users and the level of engagement.”

Twitter describes those now with two metrics: monthly active users and timeline views. But there’s a problem, says analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group.

“The problem is: Twitter - surprise, surprise - isn’t for everyone,” he says.

Growth in users and engagement has slowed year-over-year.

But these days, plenty of non-tweeters still interact with tweets. Say you’re a sports fan reading a piece online about LeBron James going back to Cleveland. Tweets from LeBron might be embedded in the article.

“So that would be me engaging with Twitter, but not really signed on,” says Shyam Patil.

Your mom might not send tweets, but she’d see and hear them if you watched "Celebrities Read Mean Tweets" on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" together.

Twitter’s new metrics would – reportedly – capture some of that wider audience. The company declined to comment, citing the quiet period that precedes earnings reports.

Analyst Brian Wieser says he thinks all this focus on Twitter user metrics is “distracting from the fact that they’ve got a great business. Metrics that would tell a much better story are things like: How many advertisers do they have? What is the average spend per advertiser?”

Things, he says, that speak more directly to Twitter’s source of business than the number of people who see tweets.

About the author

Kate Davidson is a regular contributor to Marketplace.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...