December 23, 2012 / IST / Social Media.

twitter-logoTwitter finally seems to be growing. After years of promise, the micro-blogging platform finally looks set to reach some of its goals—though some of the loftier ones are far off. Social media and games has certainly been a huge hit this century.

Just days after Dick Costolo made good on his promise to make tweets downloadable, the company is announcing more growth among users. This time it’s the monthly active users metric which according to Twitter has breached the 200 million mark for the first time. This new milestone represents an increase upon the 140 million monthly active users reported in March, and the 42% increase at least shows that Twitter is no longer stuck in sand.

The announcement was made by Costolo who also took the opportunity to reveal that tweets are also up. Twitter is now seeing over 400 million tweets per day, a jump from the 340 million daily tweets reported back in March. The increase on both metrics seems largely tied to the amount of social activity generated by the recently concluded Presidential elections in the United States. Twitter was used heavily by both candidates and the platform saw increased visibility and engagement among users who would otherwise not log in and use the service.

Although the numbers are solid in terms of active engagement, many have questioned if the new numbers will slow again in the coming years. Indeed, some are saying Twitter may take what in internet speak is “ages” before it reaches the lofty goal of 1 billion active users.

10 year estimate

According to some analysts looking at Twitter’s growth over the years, the company wouldn’t reach the target of 1 billion active users for another decade—all things being equal. The estimate is based on the average number of users that Twitter has added monthly since coming on stream back in 2006. That figure in some circles is tagged at 1.95 million and many believe only a sizable increase (50% by some analysts) could help Twitter achieve the 1 billion mark in another four years or so. This is to say if Twitter does not branch out into Games or Search, as facebook has done.

These projections I am sure are not lost on Costolo who joked months ago that his aim is to have all 7 billion people on the planet using the service. At his present pace and even with downloadable tweets, that may never happen.

One of the things holding back Twitter is its lack of reach outside of the developed countries. Indeed, where Facebook has managed to grow is in places like India, Brazil and other parts of Asia. Twitter by contrast hasn’t had the mindshare in these countries and presently relies heavily on English-speaking users to keep its numbers healthy.

It is also interesting to point out that Google+, Google’s social networking alternative to Facebook has shot past Twitter and it’s barely 2 years old. No matter how you slice it, Twitter seems to have hit maturity and saturation and only a fundamental rethink can make it more appealing to unconverted users. Perhaps its time Costolo and co move away from this 140-caharacter limit business; it may be the thing holding Twitter back. Twitter may consider a free movies online section which would draw additional users, as in the case of Facebook.