While Twitter is busy losing the social media war to long-time rival Facebook and newer outlets like Snapchat, it continues to tout its 800 million “total addressable audience” to anyone who’ll listen.
This seemingly useful figure means a lot less than most people realize and is a sign that Twitter’s losing control of the conversation. Some major changes could make it possible for Twitter to regain those users, but if it doesn’t do something soon, Twitter could go the way of MySpace.
Twitter’s Spin on Missed Opportunities
When Twitter reports that it has 800 million in its “total addressable audience,” what it means is it expects to reach that many people, including those who see tweets embedded in news pieces or in apps outside of their platform. If it instead reported its actual number of active monthly users (313 million), this number would seem significantly lower than that of its closest competition.
But it’s no coincidence that users have been jumping ship from Twitter for a while now. Between a difficult to use platform that allows only limited content creation and an internal language of hashtags meant to make tracking conversations easier, but really just confuses new users, Twitter has been its own worst enemy from the start.
Even so, those 313 million loyal users are good for something. They’re still contributing and they’re still producing information that can be data mined. That’s evidenced by Twitter’s $67 million in income from licensing its data to companies like Bloomberg, IBM and Salesforce.com, Inc. Unfortunately, third-party apps like Nuzzel make it too easy for potential subscribers to get all the tweets that matter without actually participating in the Tweeterverse, giving users who are overwhelmed by the confusion and noise a way to opt out of it all together.
That means fewer content creators, fewer active users and fewer conversations over time. In order to expand its active user base, Twitter has to adapt to become something somewhere between what its current users are enjoying and a platform that new users can enter without fear. The word on the street is that it is making some changes behind the scenes, but whether these are too little, too late remains to be seen.
“If you look at the pace that Twitter is making changes to the product now, it’s significantly faster than it’s ever been,” Ian Ownbey, an early Twitter employee and builder of Twitter posting app OneShot, told the Wall Street Journal.