First, the good news: the Asia-Pacific region will lead Twitter’s worldwide user growth into 2018.
And now, the bad news: Twitter's user growth in Australia won’t be following the same trend. In fact, as you can see in the graph above, along with South Korea, we’re holding the region back.
This new data from eMarketer provides something that has been consistently missing from the Australian social media landscape: tangible figures on Twitter’s local growth rate.
The reason why this data is such a shock is because unlike Facebook, Twitter has thus far been coy on releasing regional-specific data. In all of its annual results it has only ever presented its global user figures. And of course, this left a void for eMarketer to fill with its latest analysis.
We’ve always known that Facebook has significantly more reach in Australia than Twitter. But we’ve also assumed that Twitter’s reach and influence in Australia is growing exponentially. The fact that the international company opened a branch in Australia last year seemed to fuel this narrative.
Businesses that have invested in the platform -- both for self-promotion and advertising -- relied on these assumptions as justification for their efforts.
But as eMarketers’ data show, Twitter isn’t enjoying exponential growth in Australia. Between 2012 and 2018, Facebook will have added more users to its network than Twitter. As we all know, in terms of reach Facebook already has a substantial lead.
Earlier, we ran a story on why Facebook may now be a waste of time for business. It is too soon the make the same call for Twitter.
Contrary to Facebook, its problem isn’t in revenue but rather in user growth. If these estimates pan out, it will be difficult for the platform to justify itself as a major advertising channel in Australia, which may hurt its local revenue. It may also detract some blue chip Australian companies from further investing in the platform and make marketers think twice about running promotions or campaigns on it.
Business Spectator contacted Twitter in regards to its take on the figures and its local strategy to boost user numbers. The company was not able to reply before deadline. We will add a reply into this post as soon as we hear back from them.
In the meantime, company chief executive Dick Costolo addressed this point during the group's results in February. He said that up until now, Twitter has relied on organic user growth to buoy its service. Its strategy now will be to alter its service and actively seek user’s sign-ups. This new approach may change its fate, and throw off eMarketers estimates.
Twitter Australia has offered this statement to Business Spectator after the publication of this article in response to questions on the figures. It's from Danny Keens, Twitter Australia's director of media partnerships:
"Twitter doesn't comment on any third-party statistics about our business as they are often of wildly varying accuracy.
What do you think? Do these figures change how you view Twitter in Australia? Let us know in the comments below or contact the reporter @HarrisonPolites on Twitter.