Twitter is pretty liberal with the term ‘active user’: Only about half tweet once a month

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Twitter recently went public after seven years of being one of the most widely used social platforms on the Web. While this development had no real benefit for the regular Twitter user, it opened the floodgates to a flurry of activity on the micro-blogging site, estimated at 218 million active users, according to the company’s official statement for its initial public offering. However, recent research reveals that this number – which is still nowhere close to Facebook’s 1.19 monthly active users as of two months ago – is a sham.

PeerReach, a social data analytics company, released the results of their recent Twitter data mining expedition, revealing that although the social site’s user base significantly grew, adding an additional 14 million in the last three months (bringing its total to what was surmised to be 232 million active users), that doesn’t mean all those users are tweeting. Further inquiry suggested that out of the 232 million supposedly active users, only 117 million tweet at least once a month. That’s a little over half the statistic claimed by Twitter.

The confusion is probably owed to the fact that Twitter uses the phrase “monthly active users” rather liberally – PeerReach points out that this metric might also include users who merely log in, either to browse their feeds or do nothing at all. Other findings show Twitter almost hitting the one billion users mark, with over 904 million registered accounts as of October. This sounds like an impressive accomplishment indeed, but don’t get too excited yet, investors: Only 25 percent of those accounts are being logged into on a monthly basis, and an even smaller 13 percent are actually posting tweets.

What does Twitter need to do to create actual user engagement growth? PeerReach suggests that more attention be paid to non-U.S. users to generate better revenue – like in Japan, the U.K., and Brazil, three of the countries with a high percentage of Twitter users – as well as mobile users, male users, and not surprisingly, teen users.

And it looks like Twitter has a lot of work to do to make new users feel at home on the platform, with only three percent of 90 million new accounts created in the last three months actually posting on a daily basis. “For new users the Twitter experience is very overwhelming. Search results are chaotic, discovery is difficult, and the trends, invented by Twitter themselves, haven’t been improved since many years,” PeerReach rightly points out. “If Twitter can improve retention of new users, it should be able to get past 500 million world wide active users and the stock price will sky rocket.”

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