Twitter’s efforts to clean up its platform may be working, but it’s also resulted in the loss of millions of users.
The service lost 9 million monthly active users during the third quarter of 2018, Twitter revealed during its third-quarter earnings call. The drop is the largest ever decline for the company, which also lost 1 million users last quarter.
That may sound like bad news for Twitter, which has long faced pressure to maintain user growth. But the company’s latest results were much better than its monthly active users would suggest.
Twitter attributed the decline in users to its investments in “conversational health,” and efforts to root out spam, as well as Europe’s GDPR legislation.
Q3 Avg MAUs were 326M, -4M y/y and -9M q/q, impacted by a number of factors including: 1) GDPR, 2) decisions we have made to prioritize the health of the platform and not move to paid SMS carrier relationships in certain markets #TWTR pic.twitter.com/TFfjRgj86b
— Twitter Investor Relations (@TwitterIR) October 25, 2018
Twitter also noted that its daily active users, a metric that hasn’t previously been given as much weight, are up 9 percent from the same time last year. That suggests that the company’s efforts to take down spammers and trolls are actually paying off.
“This quarter’s strong results prove we can prioritize the long-term health of Twitter while growing the number of people who participate in public conversation,” CEO Jack Dorsey told investors.
More importantly for investors, Twitter’s revenue was significantly higher than expected, with $758 million in revenue. This is the fourth quarter in a row the company has been profitable.
Importantly, the company said it expects to see its monthly active users decline again next quarter, with losses in the “mid-single-digit millions,” and again pointed to growth in daily users as “the best measure of our success.”
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Twitter isn’t the first company to give more weight to DAUs than monthly users. Snap, a company which has also struggled to meet investor expectations, has typically relied on DAUs. (The company shared metrics for monthly users for the first time ever last quarter.)
For Twitter, though, it shows that the company’s recent focus on making its platform a better place for its users is having some effect. While efforts to curb spam and abuse may have cost it some users, those who are left are more engaged. And, given the revenue gains, the users it lost were likely not as valuable to begin with.
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