The spectacle of the U.S. presidential election — and Donald Trump mania, specifically — was Twitter’s best material in years, and made the service a crucial source for direct news.
But as Twitter reported today in its fourth-quarter results, it didn’t translate into any spike in new user growth. Twitter grew by just two million monthly active users in the fourth quarter, finishing the year with 319 million worldwide.
That was Twitter’s slowest quarter all year for user growth, and its U.S. user growth — where it has 67 million monthly active users — was actually zero.
That’s a sharp contrast to Facebook, where — despite its much larger size — user growth is generally accelerating. Facebook added 72 million monthly active users during the fourth quarter, down from 76 million in the third quarter, but up from 46 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.
"Gotta sign up for Twitter, otherwise I'd never know what the President is doing -- said nobody to nobody.— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) February 9, 2017
On Twitter’s fourth-quarter earnings call today, COO Anthony Noto said that Trump sparks “conversation and discussion” on Twitter, but chalked up Twitter’s small user growth during the quarter to “product changes and marketing,” not the election.
Instead, Noto and CEO Jack Dorsey spent a lot of time hammering home the idea that Twitter’s daily active user base was growing, up 11 percent over the same quarter last year, with growth continuing into the current first quarter. (Twitter doesn’t specify its number of daily active users, but that outpaces its 4 percent year-over-year growth in monthly active users.)
If the claim is that newsy events, such as Trump’s rise, are making Twitter more addictive and engaging to its existing user base, that seems like a positive trend.
But this also plays to Twitter’s long-standing argument that its global relevance — and the massive number of people who are aware of Twitter and read tweets in other contexts — doesn’t necessarily translate to user growth. Twitter has long tried to find ways to both generate revenue from that “logged-out” audience and to convert more of them into new users.
“The whole world is watching Twitter,” Dorsey said in his prepared remarks. “While we may not be currently meeting everyone’s growth expectations, there is one thing that continues to grow and outpace our peers: Twitter’s influence and impact.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.