How Twitter Won The World Cup

Twitter is growing, but it’s not just the monthly active users that matter.

On the company’s Tuesday earnings call, CEO Dick Costolo said that the size of Twitter’s audience is two to three times as big as the number of monthly active users—271 million—on Twitter. That means millions of users who aren’t on Twitter are seeing tweets, including those embedded in the media, or shared by friends.

“We will position ourselves to reach the largest audience in the world, and everyone on the planet,” Costolo said on the earnings call.

This quarter provided Twitter a perfect opportunity to showcase its prowess as a real-time platform on a global scale, thanks to the World Cup in Brazil. By my count, various Twitter execs used the phrase “World Cup” 13 times during the one-hour call.

Throughout the global soccer tournament, which ran from June 12 to July 13, Twitter displayed soccer information including game times and live scores, as well as notifications that encouraged people to take part in the conversation happening through hashtags and tweets. 

During the semi-final game between Brazil and Germany, Costolo said, “we had 2 billion Tweet impressions off Twitter in addition to our 4.4 billion Tweet impressions on Twitter.”

See Also: Why Twitter Needs Its Own Messaging App

But Costolo was quick to point out that the World Cup didn’t actually get more people to sign up for the service. It just increased “engagement,” or people interacting with the service.

So what drove user growth during the quarter? Costolo chalked it up to product updates like new profile pages that help new users understand the product better.

One product update that will likely get a much-needed makeover this year is the direct message feature. According to Costolo, the messaging platform—one that’s currently frustratingly buggy—will be a focus for the remainder of the year.

Another possible surprise in store for users might be a manipulated, algorithm-based Twitter feed. Currently users see tweets from the accounts they follow in real time—unlike Facebook, which filters your news feed based on what it thinks you care about the most. That sort of change would be an interesting—though controversial—shift for a company that wants to be the world’s most important real-time platform for news and information. Costolo, however, said on the call that he isn’t ruling out the idea.

The social network has 271 million monthly active users, an increase of 24% year-over-year. More than three-quarters of those users—78%, to be exact, or 211 million—use Twitter on a mobile device at least once a month.

Lead image courtesy of Flickr user paulisson miura

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