Twitter user growth rates to continue to fall -- report

Number of users could jump to 227 million in 2014, from 183 million last year, says eMarketer. But the annual growth rate is expected to drop again.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Twitter; composition by CNET/Josh Long

Twitter will keep adding more users over the next few years, however, growth rates will continue to sink, says a new report.

Twitter's user base will increase by 24.4 percent in 2014, eMarketer predicted on Tuesday in its first forecast on Twitter users. However, that rate will be down from 30 percent last year and 50 percent in 2012. The growth rate will continue to fall over the next few years, though the market research firm still eyes double-digit gains in users out to 2018.

Assuming these estimates are on the money, the number of Twitter users would rise from 183 million last year to 227.5 million this year, 269.6 million next year, 310.2 million in 2016, 349.6 million in 2017, and 387 million in 2018.

Yet in April, Twitter announced that it had reached 255 million monthly active users during the March quarter, much higher than eMarketer's latest annual figures and projections. Why the difference?

"eMarketer's estimates identify how many individual users log in or access Twitter each month within the calendar year across the world," the market researcher said. "Our figures differ from Twitter's reported figure of 255 million monthly active users in 2013 because we rely heavily on consumer survey data to weed out business accounts, multiple accounts for individual users, and other sources of potential double-counting."

Specifically, eMarketer said it uses data from more than 90 sources, including Twitter company releases, survey and traffic data from research firms and regulatory agencies, historical trends, Internet and mobile adoption trends, and country-specific demographic factors.

CEO Dick Costolo has acknowledged that the site has trouble retaining users. In February, the company's first earnings report since going public revealed a downturn in quarterly user growth. Costolo said at the time that Twitter was planning some major initiatives to make the overall experience easier for new users. But in April, Twitter reported slower user growth than Wall Street had anticipated.

Indeed, gains in Twitter's user population in the US will drop to the single digits, eMarketer forecasts, falling to around 9 percent in 2015 from more than 19 percent last year. Instead, any annual growth projected over the next few years would come from overseas, eMarketer said.

Specifically, Asia-Pacific's share of Twitter users is already the highest in the world at 30 percent in 2013. That region will account for almost 33 percent of all Twitter users this year and more than 40 percent by 2018, according to eMarketer.