Did I say “despite”? Perhaps “because” might apply instead.
When Elon Musk took over Twitter on October 28, a great wailing and gnashing of teeth arose from not just Twitter’s employees but also the Twitterati on line. The cognoscenti declared the platform dead, and a number of them announced their departures. Others predicted that Musk would drive the platform into oblivion by chasing off all of its dynamic content providers.
It’s still early days, but according to The Verge, it looks more like Musk has touched off a renaissance instead:
Twitter’s daily user growth hit “all-time highs” during the first full week of Elon Musk owning the platform, according to a company document obtained by The Verge.
Since Musk’s dramatic takeover, Twitter’s monetizable daily user (mDAU) growth has accelerated to more than 20 percent, while “Twitter’s largest market, the US, is growing even more quickly,” according to an internal FAQ obtained by The Verge that was shared with Twitter’s sales team on Monday to use in conversations with advertisers. Per the FAQ, Twitter has added more than 15 million mDAUs, “crossing the quarter billion mark” since the end of the second quarter, when it stopped reporting financials as a public company.
If those numbers are in line with how Twitter reported metrics when it was public, they imply that the service has yet to see a mass exodus under Musk’s ownership. He tweeted on Sunday that, since his deal to buy Twitter was announced, “user numbers have increased significantly around the world.” Twitter last reported 237.8 million mDAUs and a 16.6 percent yearly growth rate for the second quarter.
The news isn’t all good the past ten days, however. Users may grow, but advertisers are departing, at least at the moment. Even that seems more aligned with a temporary freak-out than actual issues:
While users may not be fleeing Twitter en masse, advertisers are. In another tweet on Friday, Musk said the company has seen “a massive drop in revenue” due to “activist groups pressuring advertisers.” Reports of a sharp spike in racist and hateful tweets after his takeover initially spooked advertisers, though Twitter said afterward that the influx was due to coordinated “trolling campaigns.” The FAQ for advertisers on Monday says that “levels of hate speech remain within historical norms, representing 0.25% to 0.45% of tweets per day among hundreds of millions.”
Advertisers come with the traffic, not the other way around. If Musk generates net user growth in the long run, the advertisers will return. They need to sell their wares and services, and have to show up where the eyeballs are to do so. In that sense, as any blogger who started out from scratch can tell you, advertising is a lagging indicator.
This may end up being a healthier platform for advertisers in the long run anyway. The user growth that Musk is realizing likely comes from those who grew tired of the heavy progressive intervention and censorship imposed by the previous Twitter regime. Some may be returning from places like Gab and Parler, and some may be choosing to try out social media for the first time to see what happens. That creates a more diverse audience, the better for specific targeting for all sorts of products and services. The narrowing down of Twitter’s user base to a heavily urban-progressive demographic might have limited the appeal of the platform to some advertisers.
Again, these are early days, and a first-fortnight growth spurt only matters if it can be sustained. At the very least, though, this contradicts the mass-exodus narratives that had anecdotally sprung up in the first days of the Musk era.
Reporting from Hot Air.