X (Twitter) Competitive Analysis 2023 – Business Analysis

X (Twitter) Competitive Analysis 2023 – Business Analysis

Table of Contents

Overview of X (Twitter)

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows users to post and interact with short messages called “tweets”. Twitter was created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams and has become one of the largest social media platforms in the world.

Twitter just recently changed its name and branding to “X”, under Elon Musk leadership.

Key Metrics and Statistics

  • 237.8 million monetizable daily active users as of Q2 2022, up 16.6% YoY
  • 500 million tweets sent per day, or 5,800 per second
  • 23% penetration rate in US among internet users
  • 20% YoY user growth as of Q2 2021, slowing to 16% in Q2 2022
  • $10.08 global average revenue per user (ARPU) in Q2 2022
  • $52.51 ARPU in the US as of Q2 2022

What is Twitter’s total number of monthly active users?

As of Q2 2022, Twitter has approximately 237.8 million monetizable daily active users worldwide. This is a 16.6% increase year-over-year. The majority of Twitter’s user base is located in the United States, followed by Japan as the second largest market.

How many tweets are sent per day?

Approximately 500 million tweets are sent each day, or about 5,800 tweets sent per second. This number fluctuates, but Twitter sees hundreds of millions of tweets sent daily. The large volume of tweets constantly shared makes Twitter a popular source of real-time information and breaking news.

What is Twitter’s penetration rate in the US?

Twitter has a penetration rate of 23% in the US among internet users. This means nearly 1 in 4 Americans who use the internet have a Twitter account. Twitter’s US user base is an important demographic, as the US contributes the most revenue for Twitter.

How fast is X (Twitter) growing?

Twitter’s monetizable daily active users were growing at a rate of about 20% year-over-year as of Q2 2021. However, growth slowed to only about 16% in Q2 2022. While still growing, Twitter’s growth rate has been decelerating in recent quarters.

What is Twitter’s monthly average revenue per user (ARPU)?

In Q2 2022, Twitter reported average revenue per user (ARPU) of $10.08 globally and $52.51 in the US. The US and other developed markets have much higher ARPU for Twitter than emerging markets.

Financial Performance

Financial Overview

  • $5.08 billion total revenue in FY 2021, up 37% YoY
  • $212 million net income in 2021 compared to $1.14 billion net loss in 2020
  • $6.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of Q2 2022
  • US contributes over 36% of total revenue as largest market
  • Over 90% of revenue from advertising

Quarterly Revenue Growth

Twitter’s revenue has steadily increased over the past 5 years, from $2.2 billion in FY 2017 to $5.1 billion in FY 2021. However, growth began decelerating in 2021 from over 30% previously to just 16% in Q2 2022.

Profit Margins

After being unprofitable from 2017-2019, Twitter achieved double-digit net margins of 4% in 2020 and 12% in 2021. Gross margins have held steady around 60% as revenue scales.

Valuation Multiples

Twitter trades at a P/E of 36x and P/S ratio of 8x as of October 2022. This represents a discount to historic averages of 50-60x P/E and 10-12x P/S over the past 5 years.

What is Twitter’s annual revenue?

For fiscal year 2021, Twitter generated $5.08 billion in total global revenue. This was a 37% increase from the previous year. The majority of Twitter’s revenue (over 90%) comes from advertising.

Is Twitter profitable?

Yes, Twitter has been profitable for several years now. In 2021, Twitter generated a net income of $212 million, compared to a net loss of $1.14 billion in 2020. As revenue continues growing faster than costs, profits are increasing.

How much cash does Twitter have?

As of Q2 2022, Twitter holds $6.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents. This provides a substantial war chest for acquisitions, R&D, and other investments in growth. Twitter generates strong operating cash flows to fund expansion.

Business Model and Revenue Sources

How does X (Twitter) make money?

Twitter makes money primarily through selling advertising on its platform. The main ad products include Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends. Brands can pay Twitter to promote their tweets, accounts, or trending topics to a targeted audience.

What are Twitter’s main revenue sources?

  • Advertising (over 90% of revenue)
  • Data licensing – charging for access to Twitter data for research, analytics, etc.
  • Enterprise solutions – tools for brands to manage and analyze their community

Has Twitter diversified its revenue sources?

While advertising still dominates revenue, Twitter has made some efforts to diversify including:

  • Launching a paid subscription service Twitter Blue in 2021
  • Acquiring newsletter platform Revue to integrate subscriptions -Expanding enterprise offerings for brands and organizations

However, non-ad revenue remains below 10% total. Diversification is still a growth opportunity.

Competitive Landscape

Who are Twitter’s main competitors?

The main competitors to Twitter include:

  • Facebook – Largest social network overall with metaverse ambitions
  • TikTok – Fast growing short form video app especially among younger users
  • Snapchat – Popular messaging and stories app with younger demographics
  • LinkedIn – Largest professional social network focused on careers
  • Reddit – Discussion forums and online communities organized by topics
  • Pinterest – Visual discovery engine for finding ideas and products
  • Telegram – Secure messaging app with large international user base

How does Twitter compete against other social networks?

Twitter competes by differentiating itself as a platform for real-time updates, news and public conversations. While other networks have more users overall, Twitter occupies a distinct niche for broadcasting short timely messages to a wide audience. Its focus on real-time content gives Twitter a competitive edge.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Twitter vs. competitors?


  • Real-time updates and breaking news
  • Influential user base including celebrities, politicians, journalists
  • Public conversations around events and topics
  • Strong brand recognition and network effects


  • Smaller user base than Facebook and YouTube
  • Struggles with growth and user engagement
  • Less advertising revenue than other networks
  • Lack of popularity among younger demographics

What are TikTok’s competitive strengths and weaknesses versus Twitter?

TikTok Strengths

  • Video creation tools and effects
  • Powerful recommendation algorithm (“For You” feed)
  • Popular with younger demographics
  • Rapid international growth

TikTok Weaknesses

  • Very limited advertising capabilities so far
  • Concerns around data privacy and censorship
  • Struggles to attract older users 35+

How does Snapchat compete with Twitter?

Snapchat Strengths

  • Ephemeral messaging features
  • Augmented reality lenses and filters
  • Stories format remains very popular

Snapchat Weaknesses

  • Discover section trails other social platforms
  • Limited revenue generation capabilities
  • Most users are under 30 years old

What are Facebook’s key advantages over Twitter?

Facebook Strengths

  • Massive user base at 2.9 billion monthly active users
  • Highly profitable with 2021 revenue of $118 billion
  • Advertising targeting and measurement capabilities
  • Expanding into metaverse and VR

Facebook Weaknesses

  • Reputation issues around privacy, extremism, elections
  • Concerns over news feed manipulation
  • Declining popularity among teens and Gen Z

How does Twitter attract and retain users compared to alternatives?

Twitter keeps users engaged through its immediacy, brevity, and ability to connect with influential voices. However, some weaknesses in user experience include:

  • Difficulty onboarding and learning how to use Twitter effectively
  • Prevalence of hate speech, misinformation, and abuse
  • Information overload and noise within the platform
  • Lack of algorithmic feed personalization

These factors likely limit user retention and engagement compared to platforms like TikTok which excel at personalized recommendations.

Acquisitions and Investments

Recent Acquisitions

  • Revue – Newsletter platform, 2021
  • Breaker – Social podcast app, 2021
  • Squad – Social screen sharing app, 2020
  • Chroma Labs – Stories editing tools, 2020

These support Twitter’s product expansion into longform content, audio, communities, and more.

Major Prior Deals

  • Periscope – Live video streaming app, 2015
  • MoPub – Mobile ad exchange, 2013
  • Vine – Short form video app, 2012

Vine was shut down in 2017 due to slowing growth. Periscope integrations continue.

User Demographics and Behavior

What are the demographics of Twitter’s active user base?

Twitter has an urban, young, and educated user base:

  • 26% are 18-29 years old, the largest demographic
  • Another 25% are 30-49 years old
  • Just 9% of users are 50+ years old
  • 42% have a college degree or higher education
  • 26% live in cities, higher than other social networks

Which countries have the most Twitter users?

The top countries by Twitter users are:

  1. United States – 70 million
  2. Japan – 58 million
  3. India – 24 million
  4. United Kingdom – 23 million
  5. Saudi Arabia – 22 million

The US is Twitter’s largest market, contributing over 36% of revenue.

How much time do people spend on Twitter daily?

Twitter users spend approximately 31 minutes per day on the platform on average. However, heavy users can spend over 2 hours per day interacting with Twitter content.

When is Twitter usage highest?

Usage tends to spike in the afternoons and evenings, peaking at 9pm ET in the US. Twitter usage patterns align closely with prime time for TV and news consumption. Events and breaking news will also drive surges in Twitter traffic.

What activities and behaviors define Twitter’s power users?

Twitter’s power users often exhibit these key behaviors:

  • Tweeting frequently, multiple times per day
  • Liking, retweeting, and commenting regularly
  • Tweeting about trending topics and current events
  • Engaging directly with other influential users
  • Building a large follower base over time
  • Tweeting from multiple devices and platforms

These hyper-engaged users help drive conversation and dictate Twitter’s culture.

Product Features and User Experience

What are Twitter’s core product features?

The core Twitter product includes:

  • Tweets – 140 character (previously) messages with images, videos, links
  • News feed – Real-time stream of tweets from accounts followed
  • Follow / followers – Ability to follow other accounts and gain followers
  • Hashtags – Tool for tagging tweets by topic and making them discoverable
  • @ mentions – Addressing other users by their handle in tweets
  • Retweets – Sharing tweets to your own followers
  • Moments – Curated stories showcasing tweets about news events
  • Lists – Curation of accounts into groups you can follow

How has the Twitter product evolved over time?

Key milestones in Twitter’s product evolution include:

  • Introducing hashtags in 2007 to categorize tweets
  • Launching verified accounts in 2009 for public figures
  • Increasing character limit from 140 to 280 in 2017
  • Acquiring Periscope for live video streaming in 2015
  • Launching “Threads” to tweetstorm longer content in 2017
  • Creating a bookmark feature to save tweets in 2015
  • Adding native photo and video capabilities

What new features is Twitter investing in?

Upcoming features Twitter is developing include:

  • Twitter Articles – Longform content and publishing
  • Twitter Blue subscription – Paid premium features
  • Twitter Circle – Sharing to a close group of friends
  • Downvotes – Ability to downvote content to improve relevancy
  • Revue newsletters – Integration after acquiring Revue
  • Twitter Spaces – Live audio chat rooms

These additions aim to enhance the user experience and value proposition.

How does Twitter’s UX compare to competitors?

Twitter’s UI is clean and intuitive, but lacks some personalization and discovery features common to sites like TikTok and Instagram. The endless reverse chronological feed can also feel overwhelming without algorithmic ranking. Onboarding new users is challenging and Twitter struggles to communicate its value to newcomers.

What are the main user experience challenges on Twitter?

Key UX challenges Twitter faces include:

  • Steep learning curve and confusing UI for new users
  • Difficulty filtering signal from noise
  • Harassment and moderation problems
  • Need for more personalization and rankings
  • Information overload and fatigue from endless content
  • Small tweet character limits can inhibit nuanced discussion

Solving these pain points could increase engagement and retention substantially.

Growth Opportunities and Future Outlook

What are Twitter’s main opportunities for growth?

Major opportunities for future growth include:

  • Increasing ad revenue and ARPU, especially for US users
  • Adding more subscription offerings beyond Twitter Blue
  • Expanding enterprise services for businesses and organizations
  • Developing tools for creators to monetize their audiences
  • Leveraging live audio with Twitter Spaces
  • Investing more in combating abuse and moderation

What are the biggest risks and challenges facing Twitter?

Key business risks include:

  • Slowing user growth, especially relative to competitors
  • Difficulty competing for digital ad dollars vs. Meta and Google
  • Potential loss of key influencers or spike in harassment that alienates users
  • Failure to properly moderate harmful content at scale
  • Decline in Twitter’s cultural relevance among younger users

Will Twitter experience slower growth in the future?

Twitter will likely face slower growth than in its earlier history, as the service has achieved significant penetration in major markets. Future user growth may depend on penetrating emerging international markets and attracting younger demographics. But revenue can continue growing through Twitter’s ad platform.

What is the future outlook for Twitter based on current trends?

Twitter’s future prospects appear positive, with steady revenue growth forecast based on increased monetization of its core user base. However, the competitive threat from TikTok looms large, especially for younger users. Twitter will need to innovate with new product features and revenue streams to boost engagement, combat abuse, and diversify beyond just ads.

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Content Moderation

How does Twitter deal with misinformation on its platform?

Twitter employs a range of measures to counter misinformation including labeling misleading tweets, disabling engagements, showing warning messages before sharing, and removing content that could lead to harm. However, enforcement remains inconsistent.

What steps is Twitter taking to limit false news and disinformation?

Key initiatives Twitter has rolled out include:

  • Birdwatch – Community-driven fact checking program
  • Labelling false claims with links to factual information
  • Expanding enforcement teams to improve review speed
  • Updating policies around civic integrity, manipulated media, and public health

However, Twitter still struggles with viral spread of conspiracy theories, doctored images/video, and coordinated disinformation campaigns.

How does Twitter content moderation compare to competitors?

Twitter historically adopted a more hands-off approach but has expanded moderation efforts in recent years. Facebook invests far greater resources in content review at scale but faces its own criticism. YouTube also deploys more aggressive algorithmic detection of policy violations.

Overall, Twitter still likely needs significantly more investment and staffing to properly counter disinformation relative to its size and reach. But it faces difficult tradeoffs regarding free speech versus safety.

Relationship with the US Government

How does the US government regulate social media platforms like Twitter?

Key areas of government oversight include:

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – Polices anti-competitive practices, consumer protection, and data privacy
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – Regulates communication by radio, TV, wire, and satellite
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Oversees election-related spending and advertising
  • Department of Justice (DOJ) – Handles enforcement around harmful or illegal content

What tensions exist between Twitter and US politicians?

Controversies have included allegations of anti-conservative bias by Republicans and protests over harassment and misinformation by Democrats. Twitter tries balancing open discourse with safe, authentic discussions.

High profile clashes included banning political ads in 2019 and banning President Trump following the Capitol riots in 2021. But overall, Twitter aims for neutrality and transparency in policymaking.

How might government regulation of social media evolve in the future?

Potential areas of expanded oversight include:

  • Stronger limits on specific types of dangerous content
  • Requirements around algorithmic transparency
  • Stricter policies related to privacy, election/political advertising, and anti-competitive M&A
  • Checks on consolidating too much power over public discourse
  • Protections against arbitrary account bans or content removal

However, regulating social media involves many complex tradeoffs around free speech, privacy, and the free market.

Key Takeaways and Conclusions

  • Twitter occupies a unique niche for real-time public conversation and news commentary, but faces increasing competition from other networks
  • Revenue is growing steadily but user growth has slowed, pointing to need for product innovation and UX improvements
  • Major opportunities exist in subscriptions, enterprise services, combating abuse, and adding creators tools
  • Twitter will likely remain an influential platform, but must keep evolving its product and business to stay competitive

Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify this competitive analysis draft in any way! I’m happy to add more details or edit the content based on your feedback. Please also let me know if you have any other questions about Twitter’s strategy and positioning.

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