Twitter is a real-time microblogging platform, publicly launched in July 2006. Its defining feature is the tight limits on the length of each post – known as a ‘tweet’. Initially this stood at 140 characters, though this figure was doubled in most languages to 280 in 2017.

Twitter is one of the most recognisable names in the contemporary tech and media landscapes. At its peak in Q1 2018, it reported 336 million MAU.  Looking to a different measure, December 2013 saw Twitter’s financial peak, with a market cap of $39.34. It has, however, fallen from grace on both counts somewhat in recent years. User numbers fell to 321 million by the end of 2018. We saw a recovery to 330 million in Q1 2019, after which point Twitter has switched to reporting ‘monetizable daily users’, of which there were 187 million in Q3 2020.

The Twitter market cap was down to $23.04 billion as of November 2019 – having been as high as $35.01 billion in September 2019. By October 2020, however, it had reached a new high of nearly $40 billion.

It was rated 11th in the world for engagement by Alexa in 2018, and #21 in Forbes Top 100 Digital Companies 2018. In late 2020, it ranks 49th in the former, and did not feature in Forbes’ 2019 listing. It was rated 4th in the world in October 2020 by SimilarWeb for traffic, however – in a year rich with news.

Twitter was developed as a side project of podcasting platform Odeo, by former Google employees, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, engineer Jack Dorsey, and software developer Noah Glass. Initially conceived as an SMS-based platform (hence the 140-character limit), Twitter was built using the Ruby on Rails web application framework. After internal trialling within Odeo, it was launched to the public a few months later. The platform was known as twttr, until the creators were able to purchase the already-in use a few months after launch. The name, referring to small bursts of inconsequential information or chirps of birds, was considered to perfectly capture the ethos of the new product.

The potential of the microblogging platform, in conjunction with the threat posed by the launch of Apple’s podcasting platform, led Williams, Stone, and Dorsey (the current CEO) to buy out Odeo as the Obvious Corporation. Twitter’s coming of age was considered to be SXSW 2007, at which giant screens showed tweets from attendees in real time. Daily usage increased threefold to 60,000 tweets. A suffusion of venture capital following the event saw the foundation of Twitter, Inc.

Users can choose to follow other users, with tweets from those they have chosen to follow appearing in their feed. They may make their own tweets private, appearing only to their followers. Public posts are searchable and viewable by anyone, even without a those without an account. Users can reply directly to posts, and also have the option to send private messages.

A range of Twitter business features are also available. Brands can post promoted tweets, post from promoted Twitter accounts, or promote Twitter trends (using the #, or hashtag, feature, pioneered by Twitter). Promoted content appears to the users to whom it is most relevant, based on their stated information and usage of Twitter. Tweetdeck is an official tool that allows businesses to manage, monitor, and schedule tweets.

As well as being accessible through web browsers, Twitter apps are available across a range of mobile devices (iOS,  Android, and more). Tweets and feeds can also be embedded into web content – a mainstay of the online news landscape.

Table of Contents

Twitter Overview and Key Statistics

Twitter User Statistics

Twitter Usage Statistics

Twitter Revenue

Twitter Overview

HQSan Francisco, California
PeopleEvan Spiegel (CEO, cofounder), Noah Glass (cofounder), Biz Stone (cofounder), Evan Williams (cofounder, former CEO), Omid Kordestani (executive chair), Parag Agrawal (CTO)
Company typePublic (NYSE: TWTR)
IPO date7 November 2013

Key Twitter User and Usage Statistics

Twitter MAU, millions
Q1 201030
Q2 201040
Q3 201049
Q4 201054
Q1 201168
Q2 201185
Q3 2011101
Q4 2011117
Q1 2012138
Q2 2012151
Q3 2012167
Q4 2012185
Q1 2013204
Q2 2013218
Q3 2013232
Q4 2013241
Q1 2014255
Q2 2014271
Q3 2014284
Q4 2014288
Q1 2015302
Q2 2015304
Q3 2015307
Q4 2015305
Q1 2016310
Q2 2016313
Q3 2016317
Q4 2016318
Q1 2017327
Q2 2017326
Q3 2017330
Q4 2017330
Q1 2018336
Q2 2018335
Q3 2018326
Q4 2018321
Q1 2019330
Q2 2019330
Q3 2019330
Q4 2019340
Q1 2020326
Q2 2020326
Q3 2020353

 Source: Twitter/Hootsuite/We Are Social 

Twitter monetizable DAU, millions
Q1 2017109
Q2 2017110
Q3 2017114
Q4 2017115
Q1 2018120
Q2 2018122
Q3 2018124
Q4 2018126
Q1 2019134
Q2 2019139
Q3 2019145
Q4 2019152
Q1 2020166
Q2 2020186
Q3 2020187

Source: Twitter

Twitter audience demographics
By ageMaleFemale

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

US vs international Twitter DAUs, millions
Q1 20172683
Q2 20172585
Q3 20172688
Q4 20172590
Q1 20182694
Q2 20182696
Q3 20182698
Q4 20182799
Q1 201928106
Q2 201929110
Q3 201930115
Q4 201931121
Q1 202033133
Q2 202036150
Q3 202036151

Source: Twitter

Twitter users by country, MAU
United States68.7
United Kingdom16.65
Saudi Arabia12.35
South Korea5.2

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social 

Proportion of US adults using Twitter

Source: Pew Research Center

Twitter audience demographics
By ageMaleFemale

Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social

Twitter US demographics
DemographicPercentage of Twitter users/demographic
Aged 18-2444
Aged 25-2931
Aged 30-4926
Aged 50-6417
Aged 65+7
Household income: <$30,00020
Household income: $30,000-$74,99920
Household income: $75,000+31
Educated to: High school or less13
Educated to: Some college24
Educated to: College +32
Urban base26
Suburban base22
Rural base13

Source: Pew Research Center

 Most followed Twitter accounts, millions of followers
Barack Obama125
Justin Bieber113
Katy Perry109
Cristiano Ronaldo89
Donald Trump88
Taylor Swift87
Lady Gaga82
Ellen DeGeneres80
Ariana Grande77
Kim Kardashian67
Justin Timberlake64
Selena Gomez63
Narendra Modi63
CNN Breaking News59
Britney Spears56
Demi Lovato56

Source: Social Blade

Monthly Twitter traffic

Source: SimilarWeb

Percentage of Twitter traffic from top countries

*SimilarWeb stats desktop only

Source: Alexa/SimilarWeb

Twitter average daily usage/visits*

*SimilarWeb stats refer to visits, Alexa to daily usage.

Source: Alexa/SimilarWeb

Most-used emojis on Twitter, all-time as of November 2020, billions
๐Ÿ˜Š 0.7

Source: emojitracker

Key Twitter Financial Statistics

Twitter quarterly revenue, USD millions
Q1 201117.91
Q2 201120.77
Q3 201126.42
Q4 201141.21
Q1 201254.31
Q2 201268.05
Q3 201282.33
Q4 2012112.25
Q1 2013114.34
Q2 2013139.29
Q3 2013168.58
Q4 2013242.68
Q1 2014250.49
Q2 2014312.17
Q3 2014361.27
Q4 2014479.08
Q1 2015435.94
Q2 2015502.38
Q3 2015569.24
Q4 2015710.47
Q1 2016594.52
Q2 2016601.96
Q3 2016615.93
Q4 2016717.21
Q1 2017548.25
Q2 2017573.86
Q3 2017589.63
Q4 2017731.56
Q1 2018664.87
Q2 2018710.54
Q3 2018758.11
Q4 2018908.84
Q1 2019786.89
Q2 2019841.38
Q3 2019823.72
Q4 20191,007.43
Q1 2020807.64
Q2 2020683.44
Q3 2020936.23

Source: Twitter

Twitter quarterly revenue by business segment, USD millions
AdvertisingData licensing & other
Q1 2013 100.4613.88
Q2 2013120.9718.32
Q3 2013153.4415.14
Q4 2013219.6823
Q1 2014226.0524.44
Q2 2014277.4434.73
Q3 2014320.241.07
Q4 201443247.02
Q1 2015388.2147.73
Q2 2015452.2850.11
Q3 2015512.8756.37
Q4 2015640.6869.79
Q1 2016530.7463.78
Q2 2016534.5267.43
Q3 2016544.9770.97
Q4 2016637.8279.39
Q1 2017473.7874.47
Q2 2017489.1584.71
Q3 2017502.886.83
Q4 2017644.2687.3
Q1 2018575.1689.72
Q2 2018601.06109.48
Q3 2018649.82108.3
Q4 2018791.37117.47
Q1 2019679.47107.42
Q2 2019727.12114.26
Q3 2019702.26121.46
Q4 2019884.55122.8
Q1 2020682.19125.45
Q2 2020561.99121.44
Q3 2020808.45127.78

Source: Twitter

Twitter advertising revenue by geography, USD millions
Q1 2018287288
Q2 2018308293
Q3 2018302348
Q4 2018366425
Q1 2019317362
Q2 2019349378
Q3 2019318384
Q4 2019375510
Q1 2020301381
Q2 2020279283
Q3 2020381427

Source: Twitter

Twitter quarterly net revenue, USD millions
Q1 2012-21.52
Q2 2012-27.58
Q3 2012-21.59
Q4 2012-8.71
Q1 2013-27.03
Q2 2013-42.23
Q3 2013-64.6
Q4 2013-511.47
Q1 2014-132.36
Q2 2014-144.64
Q3 2014-175.46
Q4 2014-125.35
Q1 2015-162.44
Q2 2015-136.66
Q3 2015131.69
Q4 2015-90.24
Q1 2016-79.73
Q2 2016-107.22
Q3 2016-102.87
Q4 2016-167.05
Q1 2017-61.56
Q2 2017-116.49
Q3 2017-21.1
Q4 2017-91.08
Q1 201861
Q2 2018100.12
Q3 2018789.18
Q4 2018255.3
Q1 2019190.8
Q2 20191119.56
Q3 201936.52
Q4 2019119.77
Q1 2020-8.4
Q2 2020-1228.01
Q3 202028.66

Source: Twitter

Twitter annual revenue, USD millions

Source: Twitter

Twitter annual revenue by geography, USD billions
US revenueJapan revenueUK revenueRest of world revenue

Source: Twitter

Twitter annual net revenue, USD millions

Source: Twitter

Twitter stock price, USD
6-Nov-2013 (IPO)26
7-Nov 2013 (first day trading)44.94
all-time high (3-Jan-15)69
all-time low (10-Jun-16)14.02

Source: Google

Twitter valuation/market cap, USD billions
September 20090.9
December 20103.5
August 20117.6
6-Nov-13 (IPO)14.2
7-Nov-13 (first day trading)24.5
all -time high (19 Oct 20)39.89
all-time low (6 June9.79

Source: Macrotrends

Twitter funding rounds
SeriesDateAmountLed by
Series AJune 2007$5 millionUnion Square
Series BJune 2008$15 millionSpark
Series CFebruary 2009$35 millionIVP, Benchmark
Series DSeptember 2009$100 millionInsight
Series EJanuary 2010$5.2 million
Series FDecember 2010$200 millionKleiner Perkins
Series GAugust 2011$400 millionDST
Venture roundDecember 2011$300 millionAlwaleed Bin Talal

Source: Crunchbase

Other Key Twitter Statistics

  • Twitter ranked 4th globally for web traffic in October 2020, according to SimilarWeb (SimilarWeb)
  • Alexa ranked Twitter 49 for global engagement over September-November 2020 (Alexa)
  • US market penetration estimated at between 22% of internet users and 26% of social media users in 2019 (Pew Research Center/eMarketer)
  • 55 million Twitter users in India (App Annie via TechCrunch)
  • 500 million tweets were sent daily in 2014, the last time official stats were released (Twitter)
  • In the US, top 10% of tweeters contribute 92% of tweets in 2020, up from 80% in 2018 (Pew Research Center)
  • 69% of these prolific US Twitter users lean towards the Democratic Party, 26% lean Republican  (Pew Research Center)
  • Prolific Democrat-leaning US Twitter users post 157 times per month, vs 79 tweets per month for prolific Republican users; outside of this prolific 10%, average Democrat-leaning Twitter user posted 11 times between November 2019 and September 2020, vs 2 for the average Republican-leaning user (Pew Research Center)
  • 36% of US Twitter users identified as Democrats, and 21% as Republicans in late 2018 (Pew Research Center)
  • In 2018, 65% of the most prolific US Twitter users were female (Pew Research Center)
  • 80% of Twitter usage happens on mobile devices (Google)
  • Prize giveaway from Japanese online clothing retailer ZOZOTOWN posted in January 2019 is the most retweeted tweet, with 4.3 million retweets (Twitter)
  • Median US Twitter user found to follow 89 accounts and be followed by 25 in 2018 (Pew Research Center)
  • Of the top 10% of US Twitter posters in 2020, Democrats follow 580 to Republicans’ 582; among less prolific users, the figures are 126 and 71 respectively (Pew Research Center)
  • Prolific US Republican Twitter users are followed by an average of 354 followers in 2020 compared to 342 for the Democrats; for less prolific users, the figures are 32 for Democrats, and 21 for Republicans (Pew Research Center)
  • 66% of brands with over 100 employees use Twitter for marketing purposes (eMarketer)
  • 26% of US users check Twitter several times daily; a further 20% at least once a day (Pew Research Center)
  • 12% of Americans use Twitter as a news source (
  • Another study found that 56% of people who log into Twitter do so to catch up on the news – the most commonly cited reason (eMarketer)
  • 39% of US Twitter users have tweeted about politics; rising to 65% of the top-10% most prolific tweeters (Pew Research Center)
  • In 2017 it was estimated that 15% of Twitter accounts could be bots (CNBC)
  • In 2018, it was calculated that 60% of the conversation around Central American migrants headed to the US was driven by bots (Vanity Fair)

Twitter User Statistics

Twitter is one of the most-used social media platforms in the world. Official Twitter statistics show that, at its peak in Q1 2018, it was used by 336 million monthly active users.

The platform hit something of a downward trend after this point, however – falling to 321 million MAU by the end of the year. We saw a slight recovery to 330 million in Q1 2019, after which point Twitter has changed its reporting method to ‘monetizable daily users’ (see below). These came to 145 million in Q3 2019.

Twitter reported that the decline in monthly active users seen before the change in reporting was related to a crackdown on spam and bot accounts. The latter have been connected with the dissemination of ‘fake news’ in recent years, with the intention to disrupt electoral processes, among other aims. Twitter also suggested GDPR may have played a small part. No doubt, many genuine users were also repulsed by the reported proliferation of manipulative bots.

As is to be expected, the most explosive growth in Twitter user numbers came in the early days. In Q1 2010, for example, Twitter could only boast 30 million active users. This figure had more than doubled a year later, to 68 million. By Q1 2012, with 138 monthly active users, the same had happened again. Growth had been steadier since around 2015 (with 302 million monthly average users in Q1) before the travails of 2017 and 2018.

Twitter switched to monetizable daily users in Q2 2019. Hootsuite/We Are Social’s quarterly Digital report estimates 356 million Twitter MAU as of Q3 2020 – a figure which would represent record highs.

Twitter MAU, Q1 2010 – Q3 2020, millions

Twitter MAU, Q1 2010 - Q3 2020

Data source: Twitter/Hootsuite/We Are Social

The switch to daily active users certainly seemed to put a more positive spin on results.

In Q3 2020, this figure stood at 187 million, incremental growth over Q2 2020’s 186 million, but well up on the 145 million daily active Twitter users (of the monetizable variety…) reported in Q3 2019. The latter itself represents a 17% increase on Q3 2018s’s 124 million.

We might also note that Q3 2020’s disappointing growth came on the back of an unprecedented increase of 20 million in the previous quarter.

Twitter had previously been somewhat cagey over daily active user numbers. The figures we have go back to the beginning of 2017.

These numbers would suggest that after a slower 2018 (albeit one in which we see consistent growth by this metric) we’ve seen healthier levels of growth over the course of 2019. 145 million, however, compares negatively against, say 210 million daily Snapchat users (Q3 2019) or 500 million daily Instagram Stories users (January 2019).

Monetizable daily Twitter users, Q1 2017 – Q3 2020, millions

Monetizable daily Twitter users, Q1 2017 - Q3 2020, millions

Data source: Twitter

Twitter demographics

Of the 187 monetizable Twitter DAUs in Q3 2020, 36 million were in the US (19%), with the remaining 151 million ‘international’.

Growth in international users has been much stronger than domestic users. Since Q1 2017, US Twitter users have increased by 38%, while international users have increased by 83%.

International vs US Twitter mDAUs, millions

According to Hootsuite/We Are Social data, Japan is the next biggest Twitter market after the US, with 52 million users – over 40% of its whole population. India is third, with 19 million, followed by Brazil with 17 million. There were even thought to be 10 million Twitter accounts in China in 2016, where Twitter is blocked. More recent estimates put the figure at 3.2 million.

We also see high levels of Twitter penetration in the UK (25%) and Saudi Arabia (35%).

Twitter supports over 45 languages in total (with translated widget text available in 34 of these). Its reach is not just limited to Earth either; astronaut Timothy Creamer sent the first tweet from the International Space Station in 2010. Back on terra firma, it was reported back in 2015 that Twitter ads were available in 200 countries and territories (the UN country count currently stands at 195).

Twitter is currently blocked in China, Iran, North Korea, and is often inaccessible in Turkmenistan.

The below stats considers ‘addressable advertising audience’.

Twitter audience by country, October 2020, millions

We might note other datasets show considerably different results. For instance, App Annie reportedly counted 55 million Twitter MAUs in India during the month of April.

Twitter users skew heavily male, with the gender ratio at around 7:3 in October 2020. The split midway through 2019 was 69% male to a mere 31% female. This is well up on the ratio reported in 2018, which found that men accounted for 57% of Twitter users globally.

By age, we see the greatest concentration of Twitter users in the 25-34 age bracket (28.9%), followed by those aged 18-24 (21.6%). Notably, the difference between the two age brackets is driven primarily male users, with roughly the same proportion of female users in each.

The drop off as we go up through age groups is less severe than with other apps. Notably, Twitter is also more popular with 35-49 year olds and 50+ year old users than it is with teens.

Male users account for more than twice as many users as female in every age group but the youngest two (and it’s not far off in the 18-24 bracket).

Global Twitter users by age and gender, October 2020

In terms of age and wealth, Twitter has claimed that 80% of its users are affluent Millennials. In the same collection of Twitter demographic statistics, it also claims that 53% are early adopters of new products, and 64% are likely to influence purchase.

Twitter US user statistics

Pew Research Center data estimated 22% Twitter penetration in 2019 – down from 24% in 2018. This gives it a relatively low standing compared to networks like Instagram (37%), Pinterest (28%) and Snapchat (24%) – and well behind Facebook’s 73%. The longer term trend is upwards, however.

At the time of writing (November 2020), no more recent data was availabe.

Twitter US penetration, 2012 – 2019

In 2018 eMarketer estimated Twitter US penetration came to 20.1%.

Twitter US market penetration

In early 2019, eMarketer predicted that the number of US Twitter users will stay more or less consistent over the next few years or so. Yearly increases of under 0.5% would take us to 53.6 million by 2023 by this estimation. This would give us slightly reduced Twitter penetration of 24%, accounting for the predicted growth rate of social media users as a whole.

US Twitter users, 2018 – 2023

US Twitter user demographics

In the US, according to Pew Research Center, Twitter stats. 21% of women overall use Twitter, compared to 24% of men in 2019 (a year prior they had found that 23% of women used Twitter to 21% of men – contrary to global trends).

As with other social media, we see a concentration of US Twitter users in higher-income, higher-education, and urbanite social brackets. This is to be expected, on a words-focused and supposedly erudite platform.

We also see typical patterns with regard to age, with usage more concentrated among younger age brackets. This is perhaps a little less predictable – Twitter is not like many other social media platforms in being clearly associated strongly with youth.

US Twitter demographics

Twitter US demographics

Data source: Pew Research Center

Indeed, a different set of Pew Research Center Twitter statistics shows that the greatest concentration of Twitter users is actually to be found in the 30-49 bracket, who account for 44% of Twitter users, while accounting for 33% of the over population. This compares to 18-29 years olds, who account for 21% if the population, and 29% of Twitter users.

Part of this comes down to how the data has been parsed (30-49 year olds account for a greater share of the US population, so presenting it this way will naturally deliver a proportionally higher figure). This data also comes from a different data set, albeit one collected only two months before the previous.

Other figures are more in line with the other data: US Twitter users tend to be more-educated and from higher-income households. We see an even split between genders. The Twitter audience is slightly less white and more Hispanic than the overall US population, though not by a great deal.

US Twitter users vs general population

The same Twitter stats show that Twitter users tend to skew towards the Democratic Party to a greater extent that the general population. A slightly higher than average quantity also identify as independents. Republicans and ‘something else’ are on the lower side.

When it comes to leaning left or right, the former claim a decisive victory among the Twitter population. 60% of US users say they lean towards the Democrats, while only 35% go the other way.

US Twitter users: Political affiliations

It has been found that the vast majority of political tweets in the US are generated by a small subset of users (see Twitter Usage Statistics below).

Unsurprisingly, these prolific political tweeters are far more likely to be highly politically engaged. More worryingly, in this era of pronounced political polarisation, we see that those who tweet the most tend to have further to the right or left, and more likely to be antipathetic to the other side – without coming into contact with them, as they are far more likely to follow those who ascribe to the same sort of beliefs.

Prolific political tweeter vs other US Twitter users: demographics

Prolific political tweeter vs other US Twitter users: demographics

Source: Pew Research Center

A later study from the same source looked at how Twitter users on each side of the US political spectrum compared in demographic terms to non-users.

In political terms, we can see Twitter users leaning towards the Democrats were far more likely to call themselves liberal than non-users. On the Republican side the difference is far less pronounced.

On both sides of the political divide, Twitter users were more likely to be younger, and in possession of a university education.

Democrat and Republican US Twitter user demographics vs non-users

Twitter political leanings

Source: Pew Research Center

Twitter news user demographics

Compared to other social media sites, those who use Twitter as a news source are likely to be white, in the 30-49 age bracket (followed by 18-29). As elsewhere on Twitter, they are more likely to be college-educated.

Demographic breakdown of US news consumers 

Demographic breakdown of US news consumers

Source: Pew Research Center

Most followed accounts on Twitter

Twitter has come to be the de rigueur mouthpiece of celebrities, politicians, and organisations aiming to speak directly to the public. Blue ticks were introduced in 2009 to indicate verified celebrity or business accounts – partially based on complaints from Kanye West, who feared being impersonated.

Actor Ashton Kutcher was the first to reach 1 million followers, while POTUS 45 Donald Trump (66.7 million followers) is renowned for his liberal use of the platform (46,000 tweets and counting). Just over half (54%) of these followers view him favourably.

The 45th president of the US, however, does not make the top-five by number of followers. It will no doubt rankle with him that his predecessor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama, is the single most-followed person on Twitter, with 125 million followers, as of November 2020.

This allows him to edge ahead of previous leader Katy Perry, who registers 109 million. Justin Bieber has also overtaken Perry, by virtue of gaining 113 million followers. The list is dominated by pop stars, who account for six of the top-10. Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest non-singer or former president, with 89 million followers.

YouTube is the highest ranking brand, with 72 million followers. Narendra Modi’s 63 million followers represent the growing influence of Indian Twitter users.

Most-followed Twitter accounts in November 2020, millions of followers

There are no official statistics for the average number of followers for Twitter users, but a 2016 study of 96 million accounts by KickFactory set the figure at 707. If you exclude those with over 100,000 followers, the figure stands at 453. This is up considerably on the 2012 figure found by Beevolve, of 208, based on 36 million profiles.

Brandwatch found that pop singer Liam Payne (formerly of One Direction) was the most influential man on Twitter in 2018, while Taylor Swift was the most influential woman. Some good news for the Donald finally in this list, as he was came in second in the men’s list – ahead on Barack Obama….

Twitter Usage Statistics

According to SimilarWeb stats, Twitter was the 4th most-visited website in terms of traffic in October 2020, with 6.1 billion visits. The figure over the trailing six months ranged from 5.47 billion to 6.12 billion.

Monthly Twitter traffic, May – October 2020

Monthly Twitter traffic, May - October 2020

Source: SimilarWeb

Alexa, on the other hand, ranks Twitter 49th in traffic and engagement for the three month period running from mid-September to mid-November.

29% of these visits came from the US according to both SimilarWeb and Alexa. The two sources also just about match up regarding Japan, which accounts for 13% in both estimations.

SimilarWeb stats show an average Twitter session of 11:14 minutes, during which 10.97 pages are visited. Alexa stats show daily usage time of 13:01 minutes, with 10.2 pages viewed.

The last official Twitter stats on the number of daily tweets stood at over 500 million. This was in 2014, this number may have increased since then – or decreased given the silence. One thing we do know through Twitter’s use of the phrase “hundreds of millions” is that we’re not quite up to a billion yet…

Whatever the number of tweets, it seems that – in the US at least – that the most pronounced Twitter usage is concentrated in a very small demographic. According to Pew Research Center Twitter stats, the 10% most-prolific US Twitter users create no fewer of 92% of total tweets posted by US adults. This is up from 80% in 2018.

This being posted in the run up to the US presidential election, the stats also consider the political leanings of these prolific Twitter users (more on this later). They leaned distinctly towards the victorious Democrats, with 69% reporting that they supported or leaned towards Joe Biden’s party. Only 26% leaned towards or fully supported Donald Trump’s Republicans.

In 2018, it was reported 65% of the most-prolific Twitter users were women. We have no update on this figure.

Proportion of US tweets from top 10% of users + political affiliation

Prolific US Twitter users 2020

Source: Pew Research Center

According to the 2018 Pew Research Center Twitter usage statistics, in all, 26% of US Twitter users check Twitter several times a day, with a further 20% claiming to the check it daily.

When surveyed, 81% of the top 10% of Twitter users by post volume said they used Twitter at least once a day. this compares to 47% of the bottom 90%, who identified as daily users.

Daily Twitter usage: top 10% vs bottom 90%

Source: Pew Research Center

Source: Pew Research Center

Twitter behaviour varies not only between these top 10% and the national averages, but also by political affiliation.

We find that the Democrats among the top 10% tweeted an average of 1,613 times between November 2019 and September 2020, compared to 814 tweets for their Republican peers. Outside of the top 10%, the figures are 11 and 2 respectively.

Prolific Democrats and Republicans follow roughly the same number of accounts on average (580 to 582); the difference is more pronounced among less prolific users (126 for Democrats and 71 for Republicans).

The same applies for followers: the prolific Republicans count an average of 354 followers compared to 342 for the Democrats. For less prolific users, the figures are 32 for the blue party, and 21 for the red.

Top 10% of US Twitter users vs average US adult: Twitter engagement

Top 10% of US Twitter users vs bottom 90%: Twitter engagement

Source: Pew Research Center

Twitter devices

Twitter is very much a mobile platform, with 80% of Twitter usage coming via mobile devices, according to stats listed by Google. This seems to be the most-commonly listed stat, though the source is unclear. Stats published in 2013 pertaining to the US suggest 86% of Twitter usage takes place on mobile devices there – a figure we might speculate has increased since then.

The platform also reveals that 93% video views happen on mobile device.

Twitter brand usage

Twitter videos can be a key tool for brands, with the potential to increase purchase intent by 34%, and to improve positive brand sentiment by 14%. In general, it seems that brands understand the power of Twitter, with 66% of US companies with over 100 employeesutilising the platform for marketing purposes. Engagement is central to success in this regard; 77% of users feel more positive about a brand if they respond directly to tweets. During 2017, brands tweeted between 112.6 to 130.5 times a month on average. It’s an increasingly cost-effective way for businesses to market; with total ad engagements increasing by 81% and cost-per-engagement falling by 32% between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018.

Brands can improve their performance on Twitter by being culturally relevant, with 47% of US Twitter users preferring such brands. Being inclusive can bolster the sense of cultural relevance, with 60% of US Twitter users believing this to be the case.

Twitter may not be the best app to utilise in the modern marketing landscape, however. Merkle reports that, between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019, Twitter referral traffic to US websites fell by 6%. Instagram, on the other hand grew by 114%, while Facebook and Pinterest grew by 9% each.

On the other hand, statistics published in Q2 2019 found that referral traffic had increased by 6% – though, again, this compares negatively to Instagram (56%), Facebook (29%), and YouTube (22%).

Twitter stats also show that ad engagement increased 23% in Q3 2019, and cost per engagement was down by 12%. Twitter also claims that users spend 26% more time with ads than other social media users (of course it does).

Twitter and politics

39% of Twitter users in the US say they have tweeted about politics; though this rises to 65% among the top-10% of tweeters who contribute 80% of tweets. 42% of the top 10% had tweeted about politics in the month leading up to the survey (Nov-Dec 2018) compared to 13% of the other 90%.

Or to put it another way, in a year-long study between June 2018 and June 2019, it was found that 6% of US Twitter users contributed 73% of political tweets in the US. This study found that 31% of US Twitter users in all were ‘political tweeters’ – that is, used the platform to engage on subjects around national politics (to meet this definition, they had to have tweeted at least five times, twice about politics).

As stated in the Twitter Users Statistics above, these prolific tweeters tend to have stronger views in either direction and tend to mostly follow others who share their world view.

Twitter as a news source

A total of 12% of Americans claim to get their news from Twitter. Or to look at it another way, 71% of US Twitter users use Twitter to get their news. See above for a demographic breakdown, but in short such users are likely to be aged 30-49, highly-educated, white, and skew towards the Democratic Party (and ergo be less cynical about online news than their GOP peers).

A US study conducted in February 2019 found that news was the most common reason for people to come on Twitter, with 56% electing this option.

It’s not just about those reading the news though; around one quarter of verified Twitter accounts belong to journalists.

Twitter bots

It was estimated in 2017 that 15% of all Twitter accounts could be bots – automated accounts that post content in order to achieve a number of different ends. Back in 2014, Twitter itself admitted that as many as 23 million accounts may have been bots.

A study conducted in the same year found that 66% of links to popular websites came from bots – a percentage that rose when it came to adult (90%) and sports (76%) content.

This sort of linking, however, perhaps errs more towards the irritating than the fundamentally troubling. We begin to get into more fundamentally troubling territory when we look at links to news and current event websites: 66% of which were generated by suspected bots: 22% of them from 500 accounts (compared to 6% from the 500 most-active human accounts).

Links to new sources generated by bots

Links to new sources generated by bots

Source: Pew Research Center

While this might bolster the visibility of one viewpoint over the other, this perhaps may not seem like the end of the world – particularly if it’s signposting the way to popular websites.

Where it starts to get more problematic is where these bots start advancing viewpoints. A study in 2018 found that up to 60% of the conversation around Central American migrants travelling towards the US – a highly charged political discourse – was driven by bots.

After the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Twitter was forced to take down a Saudi bot network that was tweeting in favour of the state, suspected of orchestrating the murder. The ruse was uncovered when it was found that hundreds of accounts were tweeting and retweeting out the same pro-Saudi messages at the same time.

Russian Twitter bots were found to be culpable of spreading disinformation during the 2016 US election campaign and pushing the leave vote during the UK’s Brexit referendum and its aftermath.

A University of Iowa Study found the existence of more than 167,000 apps using the Twitter API to send millions of tweets using bots. These accounts sent out malicious content, including spam, malware, and astroturfing campaigns (creating the illusion of widespread support for a policy, in the Guardian’s words).

Worse still, the study found considerable evidence on inaction from Twitter in the face of this. In 60% of cases, bot accounts were able to send out over 100 tweet before identifying them as problematic. It also took Twitter over a month to detect malicious activity from 40% of the apps discovered by the study. A month being more than enough time for an idea to take hold online, and spread beyond the original platform.

Reportedly, the researchers offered to share their results with Twitter, but the company showed little interest in learning more. Re-running the machine learning model in the last two weeks of January 2019, they discovered 325 apps suspected of being abusive – some of which with clearly spam-orientated names.

Twitter has, however, taken some action against the spread of misinformation and malicious bots. In order to tackle to issue of fake news, It announced plans to introduce greater transparency around who pays for advertising using its platform and how much in order to tackle the topic of fake news.

Twitter also revealed in its 2018 retrospective that it had banned 4,000+ politically-motivated disinformation accounts in Russia, 3,300 from Iran, and 750 from Venezuela. It also claimed that it banned 162,000 abusive applications in the second half of 2018 alone. Losses in user numbers reported over 2018 were ascribed by Twitter as being the result of a crackdown on bots.

It is perhaps little surprise in this context that less than one in five people trusts information they read on social media, according to Ericsson. This can have problematic repercussions for the dissemination of genuine news in the age of the likes of Trump declaring anything inimical to their worldview is ‘fake news’.

In the US, Republicans, it might be noted, are far more likely to think they’re being served up inaccurate information online (72% believe that most social media news answers to this description) than Democrats.

On 30 October 2019, Twitter announced it was banning political ads on the platform in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election. It has been noted that political advertising is a minor revenue stream for Twitter.

Twitter usage innovations

In the years following its launch, Twitter pioneered or made mainstream several innovations that inform how we use social media today. Many of these emerged organically as the result of way users interacted with the platform. For instance, the hashtag, using a # symbol to tag information pertaining to a particular topic, the @ symbol to address a user directly, and the use of the retweet (RT) to reshare other users’ tweets. All of these features we recognised by developers and incorporated into the app.

It has also been championed as an open source of news. Twitter was widely credited for its role in the Arab Spring where it was key in passing information not available through conventional channels (leading to its temporary blockage in Egypt. In more recent times, it has played a central part in the #MeToo movement. On the other hand, it also received criticism for providing a channel for the dissemination of false information aiming to disrupt democratic processes. The finger has been pointed at those pesky ‘bots’ – automated accounts producing automated postings, often posing as real humans (see directly above…).

Twitter content

2016 Twitter stats found that 82% of Twitter users watch video content on the platform, making it a key Twitter content format. More recent stats peg the figure at 2 billion video views per day.

The World Cup always generates huge spikes of activity on Twitter, with 115 billion impressions taking place during the 2018 edition in Russia.

Twitter reports that 125 million hashtags are shared every day, and 500 million GIFs.

As of November 2020, the most-used emoji by some distance was crying with laughter, with 3.06 billion all-time uses. The rest of the top-10 is made up of various expressions of love or disdain, with the international recycling symbol thrown in for luck, on nearly 1 billion.

Most-used Twitter emojis of all-time (as of November 2020), billions

most used twitter emojis

Data source: emojitracker

The most retweeted ever tweet? A prize giveaway from Japanese online fashion store ZOZOTOWN, posted by founder Yusaku Maezawa. As part of a New Year promotion, the store promised 100 retweeters ¥1 million (around $9,200). The January 2019 message has been retweeted 4.3 million times.

Maezawa also holds second-place, for a similar tweet on NYE 2019, with 3.7 million retweets.

The January 2019 tweet overtook previous record holder, Carter Wilkerson, with his poetic “HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS”, with 3.4 million retweets to date (part of a well-orchestrated campaign by fast food outlet Wendy’s – if he reaches 18 million he’ll win a year’s supply of chicken nuggets).

This figure was revised down from 3.6 million – we would speculate that it’s something to do with bots. Nonetheless, this even edged out Ellen DeGeneres’ 2014 Oscars super selfie, featuring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, and Lupita Nyong’o (3.1 million). It’s all about the pop stars once more, though, with no fewer that 47% of the top 40 tweets in this metric posted by Korean megaband BTS.

Across 2018, the most retweeted tweet was Spanish gamer El Rubius’ cryptic:

What does it mean? Well, it’s the sequel to 2016’s most retweeted tweet:

Hopefully that clears it up…

Twitter Revenue

Twitter revenue stood at $936 billion in Q3 2020. This comfortably exceeded expectations that we would see a year-on-year decline in Twitter revenue, despite disappointing user growth. The return of live sports in this quarter, after several months of coronavirus lockdown, and the excitement of the forthcoming US presidential election have been cited as drivers of this healthy revenue growth.

Weaker figures in the previous quarters of 2020 show the negative effects on Twitter of a slowed down world, as well as pinched advertising budgets. This may have been a bitter pill to swallow after seeing record revenue delivered in Q4 2019 – the first time Twitter quarterly revenue exceeded $1 billion. This in itself came on the back of missed targets in Q3 2019, ascribed to a bug in its Mobile App Promotion tool – which allows developers to promote apps through Twitter.

Twitter urged patience, saying that it was aiming to build a healthier product, adding features such as ‘hide replies’ to help detoxify the online environment. We saw a dip in revenue in 2017, in the wake of the scandals of 2016.

Twitter revenue Q1 2011 – Q3 2020, USD millions  

Twitter quarterly revenue

Data source: Twitter

In 2019, Twitter reported total annual revenue of $3.46 billion.

This compares to $3.04 billion in 2018, $2.4 billion in 2017 (which was a weaker year for a scandal-ridden Twitter), and $2.5 billion in 2016.

Twitter annual revenue, 2010 – 2019, USD millions

Twitter annual revenue, 2010 - 2019

Data source: Twitter

Advertising revenue accounts for the greatest share of Twitter revenue, coming in at $808 million in Q3 2019 – an 15% year-on-year increase on Q3 2019, and well up on the disappointing results of Q1 and Q2 2020.

The record high for advertising revenue came in the last quarter of 2019, at $885 million.

Advertising revenue comes from promoted tweets, accounts, and trends. Twitter uses an algorithm to offer tailored advertising opportunities – targeting the users who might be most interested in any given product or service.

Data licencing and other sources provided  a record $127 million of Twitter revenue. Twitter’s data licensing business has grown considerably in recent years, though there have been a few stutters. Unlike advertising revenue, this business segment delivered consistent results over 2020, with each of the first three quarters delivering year-on-year increases.

There has been some negative attention for Twitter in this area, with Cambridge Analyticacounted among its clients (it was later removed as an advertiser). Nonetheless, annual figures have grown considerably, even where advertising saw a dip in 2017 in the wake of the scandals following the US presidential election and the Brexit vote.

Total Twitter data licensing revenue came to $465 million in 2019, up on $425 million in 2018. Twitter advertising revenue stood at $2.99 billion in 2019, compared to $2.62 billion in 2018.

Twitter quarterly revenue by business segment, Q1 2013 – Q3 2020 USD millions

Twitter revenue by segment

Data source: Twitter

Over half of global Twitter revenue is generated in the US. In Q3 2020, US Twitter revenue was worth $513 million (55%), while international revenue was worth$424 million (45%).

As well as being the second-biggest market in terms of users, Japan is also Twitter’s second biggest market in terms of revenue. In Q3 2020, Japanese Twitter revenue came to $132 million (14% of global revenue). This represents a small reduction in its overall share, which had stood at 17% in Q1 2019, for example.

In 2019, US revenue came to $1.94 billion in total (56%), compared to $0.54 billion from Japan (16%), and $0.98 billion from the rest of the world (28%). This compares to US revenue of $1.6 billion in 2018 – equal to 54% of global revenue, with international revenue coming to $1.4 billion, $0.51 billion of which was generated in Japan.

In earlier years, the UK was the greatest contributor to international Twitter revenue, contributing around 10% of Twitter revenue in 2013 and 2014.

Twitter annual revenue by geography, Q1 2018 – Q3 2020, USD billions

Twitter annual revenue by geography

Data source: Twitter

If we narrow the focus to advertising revenue, we can see that while the US contributes the lion’s share (albeit this was not the case as recently in Q1 2019), the ratio between international and domestic Twitter ad revenue varies considerably.

In the record quarter of Q4 2019 saw domestic Twitter ad revenue of $510 million (58%), compared to the $375 million generated internationally. In a coronavirus-ravaged Q2 2020, however, we saw the two figures nearly match up.

In the recovery of Q3 2020, we saw international ad revenue of $381 million – the highest ever quarterly figure. US revenue, on the other hand, was some way off the record figure of $510 billion. The $427 million of US ad revenue generated in this quarter accounted for 53% of the total.

With the COVID-19 vaccine announced in November 2020 (the time of writing) may certainly the change the outlook for ad revenue in months to come.

Twitter advertising revenue by geography, USD millions

Twitter quarterly ad revenue by geography

Data source: Twitter

GAAP expenses totalled $880 million in Q3 2020. This is up 13%, year-on-year. Twitter’s profitability, however, has been driven by reduction in costs in recent years. Indeed, this helped Twitter reduce its losses in a difficult 2017.

The slashing of stock-based compensation in recent years, at points worth over 50% of Twitter revenue, is seen as instrumental in taking Twitter to profitability. This fell from $615 million in 2016 to $434 million in 2017 and $326 million in 2018.

Stock-based compensation rose again in 2019, however, to $378 million. And as of Q3 2020, the total for the year had nearly already matched this, at $377 million.

Twitter net revenue

After two difficult quarters, Twitter posted net revenue of $29 million in Q3 2020. This relatively small figure represents a return to profitability after two quarters of losses. It should be noted that Q2 2020’s loss of $1.2 billion was exaggerated as the result of a deferred tax asset valuation allowance carried forward from Q2 2019. The true figure would have stood at a loss of $127 million.

After 12 years of operation, Twitter turned a profit for the first time in the last quarter of 2017 –$91 million, based on revenue of $732 million. It remained in the black until Q1 2020. Prior to this, it ran at a loss – with the most severe coming in 2013, at $511 million. Normal loss levels were, however, rather more sustainable.

Net revenue figures have fluctuated pretty wildly since then, as we can see below. There are various explanations. The high Q2 2018 figure was bolstered by the release of deferred tax asset valuation allowance in Brazil, for example, and Q3 2018 by the same in the US, for example. The $1.1 billion figure in Q2 2019 was also courtesy of a significant one-time income tax benefit – indeed, it is in excess of the $841 revenue posted in that quarter.

Twitter quarterly net revenue, Q1 2012 – Q2 2019, USD millions

Twitter net revenue

Data source: Twitter

Annual Twitter net revenue was in excess of $1 billion in 2018 and 2019, reaching $1.5 billion in the latter year. This followed several years of gradual growth in Twitter annual net revenue.

Twitter annual net revenue, 2010 – 2019, USD millions

Twitter annual net revenue

Data source: Twitter

Twitter stock price

Twitter went public in November 2013, listing on the New York Stock Exchange. It has been relatively volatile since then.

On the first day of trading shares opened at $26, and closed at $44.90, giving Twitter a valuation of $31 billion. Twitter share price went as high as $69 in late 2013. By June 2016, the figure had crashed to $14. We saw a steady improvement until 2020 thereafter, reaching $46 in July 2018, and then back to $45 in September 2019 after another dip.

In mid-November 2020, Twitter stock price stood at $43.10. This crowns a steady upward curve over 2020, after the difficulties of the first two quarters. Prices were as low as $23 in April 2020.

Twitter stock price, November 2013 – November 2020, USD

Twitter stock price

Source: Google

Twitter market cap

Twitter’s market cap stood at $34.3 billion in mid-November 2020.

this represents a return to the highs of September 2019, where it had been as high as $35.1 billion.

The high Twitter market cap reported in September 2019 figure represents a recovery from a much reduced figure reported in the wake of a purge of fake accounts in 2018 which saw a loss of two million accounts between Q1 and Q3 of that year. A stock surge in August 2018 (with a high $46.75) saw the Twitter market cap reaching a four-year high of $35.3 billion.

In early 2014, it had been as high as $39.32 billion. It had, however gone as low as $9.83 billion in mid-2016.  In June 2018, S&P Dow Jones added Twitter to S&P’s to the S&P top US public companies.

Twitter market cap, 2013 – 2020, USD billions

Twitter market cap


Twitter funding rounds

Twitter have held a number of funding rounds (see Key Twitter Financial Statistics above), each raising between $5 million and $400 million, between July 2007 and December 2011. The last of these saw a single investor, Saudi businessman Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, invest $300 million.

Final thoughts

Since Twitter emerged on the market over a decade ago, the social media landscape has undergone huge changes. Image-based rivals such as Snapchat and Instagram have risen to precedence over that time period, though Facebook continues to loom large over the social media landscape. Crucially, we’ve also experienced a mobile revolution since then, with the 2007-launch of the iPhone, making social media an ever-present part of our lives.

While Twitter perhaps doesn’t command the same numbers as some of its rivals, it has endured through the many storms that have occurred since its launch. It has firmly established itself as the medium through which the news agenda is set, with a rich mixture of politicians, businesspeople, brands, journalists, and commentators vying for attention. The dark side of this is the troubling rise of politically-charged bots manipulating the picture, though Twitter is attempting to take action on this point.

Electric growth figures in early years have given way to more subdued figures in recent times, though its new-found profitability has kept the momentum going. A switch in reporting methods has even seen a return to user growth. Perhaps this is shifting the goalposts a little, though if this is the number of users of practical use to Twitter and its advertisers, then there seems to be some justification for it…

It remains to be seen how sustainable the thriving data sales part of its business will continue to be as people increasingly ask questions of what is happening with their private information. It seems, for now, to be growing steadily – absorbing some of the damage of Q3 2019’s shrink in advertising revenue (though we might speculate that any reputational damage will eat into the latter – a form of cannibalisation)

Whatever happens next, however, Twitter has become an essential part of how we communicate. It’s hard to imagine a world without it.

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