Twitter Is Getting Bigger in Asia Amid Slowing User Growth

As Twitter Inc. struggles to add new users as quickly as it used to, researcher EMarketer Inc. is adding an ominous prediction to the mix: Percentage growth in the U.S. will slow to the single digits by next year.

Yet there’s a positive side to the data -- Asia. While the number of Twitter users in the U.S. is expected to grow 12 percent this year, EMarketer projects an increase of 34 percent in Asia. By 2018, growth in the region is estimated to slow to 15 percent, though that would still outpace the worldwide average growth of 11 percent, reported on its Global Tech blog.

The number of the microblogging service’s users in the Asia-Pacific region already eclipses those in North America and Western Europe. And Asia’s percentage of all Twitter users will only get bigger.

India, Twitter’s third-biggest market, is expected to grow 57 percent this year, while Indonesia, the fourth-biggest, will grow 62 percent, according to EMarketer. The researchers don’t even include data from China, where the service is blocked by the government, though some people access it anyway. Japan, Twitter’s second-biggest market, is estimated to increase 17 percent this year.

Newly-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used Twitter and other social media to help topple the long-standing Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Challenger, Rahul Gandhi, didn’t have a Twitter account.

Election Results

Modi, who has 4.4 million followers on Twitter, tweeted selfies from the campaign trail and announced his victory in a message that was retweeted 69,000 times.

“India has won. Good days are ahead,” Modi wrote to his followers via a post on Twitter, after official results released May 16 showed his Bharatiya Janata Party winning a landslide victory over the Congress party led by the Gandhi dynasty.

India has an estimated 205 million Internet users, according to Arnab Mitra, managing director of LIQVD Asia, a digital advertising company.

Given where it’s adding users, Twitter needs to start making more money outside the U.S., EMarketer said. The San Francisco-based company is still working to expand its sales effort overseas, first by turning on access to its self-serve advertising product, Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo said in a conference call with investors last month.

People outside the U.S. accounted for 78 percent of Twitter’s active users in the first quarter, yet only 28 percent of its revenue was from international sources, according to the company.

Meanwhile, total user growth has been slowing. Last month, Twitter said membership in the first quarter rose 25 percent from a year earlier to 255 million, decelerating from 30 percent growth in the prior period.

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