Twitter quadruples its daily users, debuts TV ads

Krystal Peak · June 11, 2012 · Short URL:

The micro-blogging site is looking to make its service more mainstream, inseparable from TV viewing

If your Twitter feed is as nearly as robust as mine then hearing that the number of US daily tweeters has quadrupled since 2010 is no big surprise but it does mean that roughly 8% of the adult population in the country is posting thoughts in 140 characters or less, according to a study released today.

Twitter has also attracted a twice as many people this year as in May 2011 to post daily, which is a more dramatic adoption than the use of smartphones.

The study, carried out by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for the Pew Internet and American Life Project, found that young adults prefer Twitter more so than older adults, with more than a quarter of people ages 18-29 using Twitter compared to 14% of users ages 30-49.

In March 2012, active Twitter users numbered 140 million, up from 100 million in September 2011 and all of these users collectively tweet 1 billion posts about every three days. The numbers are getting so big it is hard to process. I remember a day when I could watch live twitter feeds covering a debate or award show, but now the volume is so immense that your Web browser can't load fast enough, and you couldn't physically read the number of tweets coming in during the Emmy's, Tony's or Oscars. 

Twitter user growth is also increasing in the UK. In May, the number of Twitter users in Britain reached 10 million, with 8 million users accessing the site in just the last 30 days.

Twitter strives for even more mainstream appeal

While the Twitter growth is exceptional, holding onto 8% of US adults is still not quite mainstream. In an effort to insert Twitter even more into the common Internet culture, the San Francisco micro-blogging company aired its first TV ad campaign over the weekend.

Twitter debuted seven 15-second ads during Sunday’s Nascar motor racing event, the Pocono 400. The ads, which featured Nascar drivers posting tweets from their smartphones behind the wheel, promoted a Twitter page collecting posts about the race. 

The new Nascar page can be viewed by people even if they are not registered users of Twitter and marks the California-based internet company’s first big attempt at a curated, editorially driven approach.

For years it has been rare for these Internet tech companies to turn to TV for advertising opportunities -- especially since they have access to very targeted information on the Web.

At the end of last year YouTube and Google+ started TV airing spots to promote their services and Square also recently started promoting its services via TV ads.

Twitter has been building ties with broadcasters to bring traffic to its site and build buzz online that can in turn boost TV audiences. Twitter has become the real-time outlet for people watching shared events such as sports broadcasts, award shows, debates and other events and now it is supporting the TV system with paid ads. 

As more companies strive to create a second screen experience, Twitter has broken in the closest. A lot of celebrities and everyday viewers watch their TV events with smartphone in hand so that they can tweet real-time reactions and read how others are responding to televised events.

It will be interesting to see if this new marketing strategy spikes up traffic to Twitter and increases the usership base noticeably. I don't have any hard numbers on it but I imagine Twitter isn't strongest in its Nascar usership base and it can only help when fans see their sport icons tweeting.

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs



Joined Vator on

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.