Tonight Twitter will announce its fourth quarter earnings – but can the tech company speed up its sluggish user growth?
Over the past few weeks the Twitter PR machine has been working hard to publicise the latest innovations to the social networking service, including a tie-up with Google that will see tweets go straight into search results, group direct messaging and the introduction of a video tool on its mobile apps.
In November Twitter executives spent almost eight hours speaking to Wall Street analysts about their plans to stimulate user growth, according to the Wall Street Journal. And now the pressure is on for chief executive Dick Costolo to deliver.
Here are some things to look out for ahead of tonight’s results:
Can Twitter grow its monthly active users?
This is the main bugbear for analysts. While Twitter’s revenue increased in the third quarter, results for its average monthly active users were disappointing. The company’s third-quarter revenue of $361 million easily beat analysts’ average forecasts of $351.4 million, but while average monthly active users rose 23 per cent to 284 million, the figure was down slightly from a 24 per cent rise in the second quarter.
Twitter’s shares fell nine per cent off the back of the news and analysts will want to know whether the trend can be reversed this time around.
In other words, the company is making money but if it isn’t attracting new users there is concern that there is a limit to how much it can grow – analysts ideally want to see a jump in both areas.
However, Twitter is looking to evidence further growth from its existing users. The company announced this week that it will syndicate its paid-for promoted tweets on Flipboard and Yahoo Japan. This will allow Twitter to benefit from all the users who see Twitter’s content without actually logging onto the microblogging site.
So what do the analysts think?
The numbers are expected to look impressive, but the user growth figures will likely overshadow an expected sharp rise in both revenue and profit before tax.
Revenue of $453.14 million, compared to $242.68 million a year earlier.
Profit before tax of $45.27 million, up sharply from 2013's $11.98 million.
Net income of $41.50 million, a dramatic increase on $9.77 million last year.
Will Twitter tackle the trolls?
In a memo to staff that was leaked to The Verge Costolo admitted that Twitter "sucks" at protecting its users from abuse.
"We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day," he said. "I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd."
In December Twitter revealed new tools to stamp out abuse on its service, which included making it easier to block and report abusive users.
Perhaps the company will use tonight as an opportunity to expand upon its plans – in a move that could potentially help it improve its user growth.Reuse content