While the new figure reveals Twitter’s lesser size in comparison with other social networks, the number of daily users continues to grow, with a 9 percent increase in daily active users compared with the same period last year. Twitter also said that its daily user numbers only include those accounts that can see advertisements; it excludes, for instance, people who use third party apps that don’t show ads, which the company says makes its figures “not comparable to current disclosures from other companies.”
Twitter has historically disclosed the percentage growth of its daily users but not the actual figure.
The company also posted another profitable quarter, its fifth consecutive period of profitability.Twitter brought in $909 million in revenue for the fourth quarter, up 24 percent from a year earlier, with a profit of $255 million, well more than double what it made during the same period in 2017.
“2018 is proof that our long-term strategy is working," chief executive Jack Dorsey said in a statement. "We enter this year confident that we will continue to deliver strong performance by focusing on making Twitter a healthier and more conversational service.”
But for the first quarter of 2019, Twitter expects revenue to come in between $715 and $775 million, an outlook that may have unsettled investors, along with the change in disclosures about user numbers. Twitter stock was down more than 10 percent in midday trading.
In a call with investors Thursday, Dorsey cast Twitter as an indispensable platform for hosting unique conversations, giving users insight into events and debates sparking around the world. “You can’t find the conversation on Twitter anywhere else,” he said. Dorsey said this financial quarter was Twitter’s most successful ever.
Dorsey said the company’s strategy is centered on four broad objectives: promoting healthy conversation on the platform, making it easier for users to participate in conversations, improving the platform for advertisers and focusing on new technology to improve the service.
Dorsey said the platform is a hub for following people’s interests, but acknowledged it can be difficult for users to engage in conversations and, for first-time users, to find accounts that share their interests. He said the company is developing ways to remove the initial work by users to find relevant discussions, jump into sporting events and follow breaking news.
Twitter reported that the number of monthly active users is declining. Twitter claimed 321 million monthly users, down 9 million, or more than 2 percent from the same time last year. “The falloff in monthly active users is likely a continuation of Twitter’s efforts to remove questionable accounts,” which began last quarter, said Jasmine Enberg, an analyst at the research firm eMarketer.
Enberg said the growth in daily users, however, means that people are still “highly engaged” on Twitter, which advertisers will take as a positive sign. Twitter also has room to grow by converting people who use the site infrequently into daily users, she said, which would allow the company to boost its revenue without having to grow its overall user base.
Ned Segal, Twitter’s chief financial officer, told investors that deciding to disclose the company’s daily user base is the best way to measure the company’s success. After the earnings report for the first quarter of 2019, Twitter will discontinue posting its figures for monthly users, he said.