Visitors are the Future of Twitter’s Growth

But where will Twitter find new visitors? It’s to emerging markets that the platform needs to turn.

A few weeks ago, Twitter started testing two new features that it hopes will help secure its future growth – an ‘Instant Timeline’ aimed at active users and a new content-rich homepage to entice visitors.

GlobalWebIndex’s 32-country, 170,000-respondent research shows that one of these ventures will be particularly key for Twitter: the homepage. And that’s because visitors, rather than active users, are key to it driving significant growth.

Currently, our data shows that, across the 32 countries surveyed by GWI, Twitter has 157 million more visitors than active users. To put that another way, it has 1.5x as many visitors as MAUs. So, active users will remain important but, given the public nature of Twitter, it will find it much easier to attract higher numbers of visitors than it will to nab new active users.

But where will Twitter find new visitors?

It’s to emerging markets that the platform needs to turn. Not only are these countries experiencing the biggest year-on-year increases in terms of internet penetration, GWI’s research shows clearly that internet users in these markets are the most likely to visit Twitter without signing up for the platform.

In Saudi Arabia, Philippines and Turkey, for example, up to a fifth of internet users who don’t have Twitter account are still visiting the site each month. In India, meanwhile, one third of the internet population might be active on Twitter but a much higher 57 percent are visiting the site each month.

Also, don’t forget China. Despite official restrictions on Twitter, GWI’s data shows that a fifth of Chinese internet users are visiting the platform each month – with much of this traffic coming through VPNs or Proxy Servers, meaning these Chinese visitors are often incorrectly geo-located to western countries.

But the big question here is – will new visitors, particularly from fast-growth nations, help Twitter to make money?

Absolutely. Because people don’t need to be actively using a social network for advertising to work, they just need to be visiting it. Non-registered visitors might frustrate an Atlas-style ad platform but if Twitter can reach hundreds of millions of additional individuals beyond its active user base then that’s very good news for the micro-blog.

YouTube is a good example here. By enhancing the experience for non-registered or non-logged-in visitors, it has amassed more monthly visitors than Facebook. Twitter could easily replicate this model.

What’s more, new Twitter visitors from emerging markets should be of interest to marketers. In India, for example, a quarter of Twitter visitors are from the top income quartile, half say they tend to buy brands they see advertised and 1 in 4 are discovering brands through micro-blog updates. And with online populations in most fast-growth markets typically being skewed towards young, urban and affluent demographics, they’re a very valuable potential audience to reach.

Felim McGrath is a Trends Analyst at GlobalWebIndex, the world’s largest on-going study into the digital consumer.

Top image courtesy of rvlsoft /

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