How big is Twitter’s daily user base? A lot smaller than Snapchat’s, it turns out.
For years, Twitter has been asking investors to judge the company by looking at user growth for its daily active users. But Twitter never shared how many daily active users it actually had, which made the year-over-year growth hard to appreciate.
That changed on Thursday when Twitter shared its daily user total for the first time: Twitter has 126 million daily users, which is 60 million fewer users than Snapchat (and a lot fewer users than the core apps owned by Facebook). That means roughly 39 percent of Twitter’s monthly active users are on the app every day.
The new metric matters to Twitter because it paints a picture that Twitter is growing. Twitter’s monthly active user base — the user metric it has shared quarterly since its IPO in 2013 — is shrinking, and has been for some time. So focusing on DAU instead of MAU lets Twitter show that it’s growing, which is a much happier story to tell. In fact, Twitter said it will stop sharing the MAU total altogether beginning this year.
The DAU metric also helps put Twitter’s user growth, which it’s been touting for years, into perspective. And it helps us compare Twitter’s audience to competitors like Snapchat, which it competes with for advertising dollars.
Twitter will tell you that it’s not fair to compare directly to Snapchat. That’s because Twitter says it is only counting users who could be exposed to ads — what it’s referring to as its “monetizable” audience. Snapchat, Twitter would argue, counts users who open the app, send a message, and leave without ever getting to the part of the app where Snapchat serves ads. (Though in reality, it seems like someone could use Twitter for the same purpose.)
It’s not a super-compelling argument, but if you want to find a defense for Twitter, at least its audience is still growing. Snapchat’s user base didn’t grow at all in 2018.
Twitter’s DAU metric also gives us a sense of how much room Twitter has left to grow. The company’s monthly active user total has been declining, so, barring a miraculous turnaround that suddenly drives a lot more new people to Twitter, the company is betting it can get more of those existing monthly users to open the app more often. That can’t go on forever, of course, but Twitter has a lot of room between its monthly and daily totals.
That means there’s more room for Twitter to grow, and if it does, its business should grow along with it.