Twitter CEO promises user count growth in 2014, but not all overnight

Summary:Costelo cited recent infrastructure changes have already resulted in a 35 percent increase in interactions, such as Retweets, since the IPO.

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SAN FRANCISCO---When Twitter published its first earnings report as a public company last week, shareholders were immediately spooked by lower growth for the user base rather than revenue or sales figures.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on Thursday, Twitter CEO Dick Costelo aimed to put those fears to rest by offering a glimpse at the social network's game plan for 2014.

The strategy, according to Costelo, is based upon a combination of things, including a "tremendous amount of field research" about users, coupled with data about how users actually use the product.

"Twitter is this indispensable companion to life in the moment," remarked Costelo.

That combination has informed this roadmap for the kinds of capabilities that Twitter plans to introduce, which Costelo promises will result in growth.

Costelo emphasized that Twitter is more than just a product or even a social network, but a "medium."

"Twitter is this indispensable companion to life in the moment," remarked Costelo, citing its relevance and use in major events ranging from the current Winter Olympics to the day Boston was shut down last April during the search for the Marathon bombers.

Costelo emphasized a few times over the course of the discussion that the roadmap is already being driven by bringing the content and actions taken on Twitter forward and pushing the "scaffolding" of the infrastructure to the background.

For example, Twitter is making alterations in the way it suggests users and brands to follow to new sign-ups, such as drawing suggested contacts from a user's mobile device rather than just the most-popular accounts of the moment. Costelo revealed that new Twitter users are much more likely to engage in the platform when they connect to at least three other people who also follow them back.

"We're this complimentary experience to all other forms of media," Costelo asserted. "That affords us and our partners in these other forms of media to take advantage of both what's on our platform and on their platforms."

Costelo cited that changes like these have already resulted in a 35 percent increase in interactions, such as Retweets, since the IPO.

But, he warned against expectations of a single new product, feature or date in the calendar that would result in a "quantum" change in growth, but rather look for a cumulative effect over the year.

For advertisers, Costelo instructed simply, "Be patient," adding that Twitter will continue to roll out new features and upgrades soon. He also listed some recent updates that have already taken place, including online conversion tracking during the fourth quarter as well as new analytics for the Cards dashboard a few weeks ago.

Costelo boasted that a "hallmark of the company" up until now has been being patient in rolling out new revenue opportunities and understanding the efficacy of them before launching them more broadly.

"We're this complimentary experience to all other forms of media," Costelo asserted. "That affords us and our partners in these other forms of media to take advantage of both what's on our platform and on their platforms."

Topics: Social Enterprise, Apps, CXO, E-Commerce, Web development

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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