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Twitter's Secret to Growth Is 580 Million Users Waiting to Reengage

Forecast shows 255 million on board, more on sidelines

Photo: Getty Images

Twitter is signing up 50 million new users a month, a rate at which would put the network at more than 1 billion users sometime next year, if not for the fact it loses or suspends more than half those accounts—30 million a month—for violating its policies, according to the latest data from Twopcharts.

The Twitter tracking firm revealed new user statistics that shed light on the social network’s greatest threat and ultimately its most hopeful area for growth. Even after Twitter cuts through the spammers, the fake accounts and the impersonators, it still has more than double its current user base—580 million potentially reenergized people—lying dormant on the platform waiting for a reason to reengage.

Last month, Twopcharts estimated there have been 1.5 billion signups in Twitter’s eight-year history, but 500 million were deactivated or deleted as a result of spam and other transgressions. Twopcharts periodically reveals such numbers about Twitter housecleaning and what portion of the network falls off the radar. Now, the 580 million inactive legitimate users could represent Twitter’s best future growth prospects, according to Twopcharts and analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

Twitter’s troubles retaining new users and keeping them interested have been well documented. Active usage is growing as Twitter addresses its core problem with a redesign and new features like adding emojis that appeal to broader online audiences. Twopcharts said user growth was 5 percent quarter over quarter and 25 percent year over year in the first quarter, helping the network top 250 million monthly active users for the first time.

Twitter officially releases results later this month, but SunTrust released a report today on user and revenue forecasts. Here’s a look at the numbers:

In 2010, only 5 percent of newly registered accounts were suspended, now about 50 percent of them get deactivated.

This means, Twitter attracts 50 million signups a month, but only nets about 20 million new users.

Of those, only 25 percent of new users are active after 12 months, which accounted for the net growth of 56 million last year.

There are still 975 million registered accounts on the platform.

255 million of those are monthly active users, whether tweeting or passively viewing, and 140 million accounts are considered abandoned or place holding. That leaves 580 million inactive users that could be brought back into the active fold.

Only half of all active users, 126 million, actually tweet at least once a month, and the remaining 129 million just watch. And 43 million users tweet daily.

Facebook was still growing users at a rate of 50 percent or more even when it had around 500 million active users, twice as much as Twitter, growing at 25 percent year over year today.

Facebook has 201 million users in the U.S. compared to Twitter’s 54 million.

SunTrust forecasted $217 million in ad revenue in the first quarter, a 116 percent increase year over year.

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