Moving Twitter from a tool for tech-savvy early adopters to a microphone to the world will require questioning how Tweets are sent and delivered, interim CEO Jack Dorsey (pictured) said yesterday. Speaking during the company's Q2 2015 earnings call, Dorsey said the results of Twitter's efforts to significantly grow its audience so far are unacceptable.
Typically Tweets appear in reverse chronological order, but the company may be open to making changes to that model to make its service easier to use and to attract more users. “You’ll see us continue to question a reverse-chronological timeline and all the work it takes to build one through finding and following accounts,” Dorsey said, adding that using Twitter should be as easy as looking out your window.
During the second quarter, Twitter reported revenues of $502 million, which is 61 percent higher than in the same period last year. The total number of active monthly users grew by 15 percent, from 308 million in Q1 of this year to 316 million in Q2.
"Our Q2 results show good progress in monetization, but we are not satisfied with our growth in audience," Dorsey said. "In order to realize Twitter's full potential, we must improve in three key areas: ensure more disciplined execution, simplify our service to deliver Twitter's value faster, and better communicate that value."
Growth Efforts: 'No Meaningful Impact'
Twitter has already rolled out a variety of changes aimed at making its services easier to use and more relevant to a wider audience. In January, for instance, it introduced a feature -- "While you were away" -- that provides users a top-of-the-page recap of leading Tweets from some of the accounts they follow since the last time they checked the site.
"Our goal is to help you keep up -- or catch up -- with your world, no matter how much time you spend on Twitter," said product manager Paul Rosania. "With a few improvements to the home timeline we think we can do a better job of delivering on that promise without compromising the real-time nature of Twitter."
Dorsey mentioned the "While you were away" feature during Tuesday's earnings call, and also pointed to Twitter's planned launch of Project Lightning -- a curated feed of live-event Tweets, images and videos -- scheduled for the fall.
All of the company's market-building efforts so far, however, "have not yet had meaningful impact," Dorsey said, adding that those results were "unacceptable."
Adoption Rates Lag Brand Awareness
Despite Twitter's healthy financial figures, its user base is more early adopter than mass market. Although the company was founded just two years after Facebook, its number of monthly active users pales in comparison to that of the competition: 316 million, compared to Facebook's 1.44 billion.
The main problem is that while the company's service has widespread brand awareness of 95 percent in key markets around the world, its adoption rates in those markets are significantly lower . . . less than 30 percent, said Twitter CFO Anthony Noto.
"We have not communicated Twitter's unique value," Noto said. "Non-users continue to ask, 'Why should I use Twitter?' Simply said, the product remains too difficult to use."
Noto said the company plans to work as rapidly as possible to launch an integrated marketing strategy as well as hire a chief marketing officer before the end of the year. Until Twitter can appeal to a wider mass market, the company can't expect significant organic growth in its user base, he said.