Twitter has become a bit of punching bag for social media critics lately. User growth has stalled, revenues are down and many are starting to question its cultural relevance.

Here are some stats:

  • The company reported an 8% fall in quarterly ad revenue in Q1 2017 (a first for the 11-year-old firm)
  • Its monthly active users (MAUs) have increased by less than 10% over the past two years (302m Q1 2015 to 320 Q1 2017)
  • And now even a Twitter clone, Weibo, has more monthly active users than Twitter - despite having few users outside of China

With stats such as these many marketers have filed Twitter in the 'lost cause' bin and started to spend their time and money elsewhere.

But there have been recent positive signs in a, perhaps, unlikely place - Asia-Pacific.. Here are three reports which have all attested to the value of the iconic microblogging service in the region.

1) Twitter ads beat Facebook for app retention in the Southeast Asia

AppsFlyer, a leading mobile attribution platform, releases a report twice per year which ranks the effectiveness of various media platforms.

Its methodology is to measure the install and retention rate for apps downloaded through organic media and compare it with the same metrics for apps downloaded after media buys.  The difference between the two figure shows the value of the advertisement medium for obtaining and keeping app users. 

They are interesting metrics because if a platform is showing ads which encourages viewers not only to download but to use apps, then people are taking in ad information on the platform to a reasonable extent.

By these measures, Twitter is the third best platform in Southeast Asia for encouraging downloads and the best, better than Facebook, for user retention for non-gaming apps on iOS. On Android it slips only to number two, but still head of Facebook.

Twitter, it seems, is an effective way to reach users in Asia and, as a result, drives real value for app publishers in the region.

 

2) Monthly and daily active users are up significantly in the region

Twitter has recently suffered a string of executive departures in Asia. But Maya Hari, the current Twitter APAC MD, recently reported positive numbers for the social network in the region.

Some of her observations include: 

  • APAC revenue grew faster than other regions in Q1 2017
  • Monthly Active Users grew by 9 million quarter-on-quarter
  • Daily active users in the region grew for the fourth consecutive quarter with accelerating daily usage 

Naturally these stats have been carefully selected to highlight Twitter's strengths, but they are solid indicators that the network is still gaining traction in Asia-Pacific.

3) Twitter is big in Indonesia - and Indonesia is growing

While new MAUs may be lagging in many countries in the West, Twitter has relatively high penetration in Indonesia and Indonesia's internet user base is growing fast.

eMarketer reports that Twitter has around a 17% penetration rate in Indonesia which, with 132 million internet users, means that Twitter has around 20 million users in the country. 

As Indonesia's internet user base is set to grow by between 5 and 10% per year over the next 5 years, Twitter will potentially add tens of millions of users in the country by 2021.

Twitter is also culturally significant in the country. For example, a tweet regarding a presidential bid in the country was the second most retweeted tweet at the time, with over one million retweets.

Finally, a recent report published by The Institute for Software Research at Carnegie Mellon concluded that Twitter is so prevalent in the country that 'disaster management tools that employ Twitter should be relatively effective in Indonesia.'

And from another perspective...

Twitter's numbers for Asia-Pacific do look positive for the company, but besides the figures, the social network makes sense for Asia, especially the emerging economies.

Twitter's 'lite' version is 30% faster and 70% cheaper in terms of data consumption than their standard app and takes up less than 1MB on a phone. All of which are critical growth factors for the many countries where nearly all mobile users pre-pay for data (estimated to be 99% of mobile users in Indonesia). 

So overall, it may not yet be time for marketers to raise their stakes in Twitter in Asia or elsewhere, but these reports show it is too early to write off the network because of a few bad quarterly indicators.

There is, therefore, still hope for Twitter!

Jeff Rajeck

Published 9 June, 2017 by Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck is the APAC Research Analyst for Econsultancy . You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.  

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