• Company says more than 1 billion unique people see tweets
  • New efforts address slowing user growth on Twitter's website

Twitter Inc. is finding new ways to redefine its audience.

The company, criticized by investors for slowing user growth, has long insisted that its 316 million monthly active users aren’t indicative of its entire audience. On Wednesday, Twitter gave a number that’s much bigger: 1 billion people see tweets embedded in other websites and applications, the company said. And with some new product updates, that number is set to grow, it said.

Twitter told developers at an annual conference that it’s building tools to encourage more people to see tweets outside Twitter’s main website. Among the updates: Media organizations will be able to to curate tweets to embed in stories, and mobile applications will be able to fold in entire Twitter timelines. Twitter is also making it easier for programmers to add advertisements to their applications, tying them closer to Twitter’s marketing tools. It’s all part of an effort to increase the company’s influence and audience.

"The competition for users’ time and advertisers’ mobile and social ad dollars is
rising," Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note today.

The bank downgraded Twitter to the equivalent of a sell on Wednesday, citing issues such as the lack of user growth and engagement and weak advertiser demand. In response, the shares of Twitter fell 5.2 percent to $29.30 at the close in New York, leaving them down 18 percent this year.

The updates come as Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey works to convince developers that collaborating with Twitter will be worth their time.

“Somewhere along the line our relationship with developers got a little confusing, a little complicated, a little unpredictable,” he said at the company’s Flight conference for software programmers in San Francisco. “We want to come to you today and -- first and foremost -- apologize for the confusion and reset the relationship. We are learning, we are listening, and we are rebooting.”

Dorsey is working to appeal to the engineers who write applications that tie into Twitter’s platform for sending and sharing 140-character updates. In the past, the social-media company has shut down popular applications after changing rules about how developers could use its data; now Dorsey is asking developers for feedback on the company’s product.

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