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Twitter Adds 6 Million Users in Q4, Crosses $5 Billion in Total revenue for the Year



Twitter Looks to Extend its Keyword Blocking and Mute Options to More Elements

Twitter’s first quarter in the post Jack Dorsey era seems to have gone okay, with the platform adding 6 million more users, and posting a 22% YoY increase in revenue. And while it’s still a long way from its ambitious growth targets, there are some positive signs – here’s a look at the key notes from Twitter’s Q4 2021 earnings results.

First off, on users – as noted, Twitter added 6 million more users in the quarter, taking it to 217 million mDAU.

As you can see here, the vast majority of Twitter’s growth is coming from international markets, with the platform adding just 1 million US users over the past year. In fact, Twitter’s US usage has remained virtually flat since the start of 2020, when it reached 36 million American users. Since then, it’s fluctuated between 36 and 38 million, but it hasn’t been able to gain more significant momentum among US audiences.

That’s a concern, considering the majority of its revenue still comes from US users.

Twitter Q4 2021

As you can see, Twitter reached $1.57 billion in revenue for the quarter, with ad revenue at $1.41 billion, dominating its income.

But the lack of growth among its US audiences remains an issue, with Twitter gaining momentum in India and Asia, which have thus far been lower-earning regions for the company.

But even so, the numbers here are solid – especially when you consider that Facebook lost a million daily users in the US in the most recent quarter, and Pinterest’s usage continues to decline.

In some ways, it seems we’ve reached social media saturation point in the main markets, with people either signed up or not ever going to be. TikTok is bucking that trend, as it continues to gain momentum, but most other platforms are slowing, or declining, in western markets, which means their future growth momentum will need to come from outside the US – which also means that they’ll need to establish better revenue opportunities in these regions.

For Twitter, it’s still aiming to add 100 million more users by 2023, in line with the growth goals it established under Dorsey, and communicated in February last year.

Twitter growth targets

Those goals were set after Dorsey came under pressure from an activist investor group in 2020, which essentially bought up Twitter board seats in order to pressure the company to replace him.

With Dorsey stepping down in November, it was initially unclear whether those same goals would stand, but Twitter has re-committed itself to these targets in today’s announcement:  

“We made meaningful progress in 2021 against our 2023 goals: doubling development velocity by the end of 2023, delivering at least 315 million mDAU in Q4’23, and delivering $7.5 billion or more in revenue for the full year of 2023.”

Both of those will take significant effort – and as noted, the majority of that growth will need to come from outside the US, its biggest earning market.

For comparison, Twitter added 18 million users throughout 2021, and will need to add another 98 million over the next two years to make it to 315m total mDAU. So it essentially needs to more than double its user growth rate (+49 million per year) moving forward, which seems like a pretty steep hill to climb, especially with its newer experiments not looking likely to win over a heap of new users.

Most of Twitter’s new projects, like Super Follows and Twitter Blue, are more focused on revenue growth, another key element in the plan (Twitter full year revenue reached $5.08 billion), though it is also looking to improve relevance and discovery for users through the expansion of Topics, while Spaces continues to be a key focus for increasing user engagement.

Topics, at least in theory, could be a winner for usage growth, and Twitter’s continued to build on its Topic tools – which could also have benefits for advertising:

“In Q4, we began integrating signals from organic Topic follows on Twitter into our ads targeting algorithm, with early results showing an almost 10% increase in the average targetable interest segment size.”

Twitter says that 280 million accounts now follow at least one Topic, while it also now has more than 14,500 Topics available to follow in the app, across 11 languages.

Improving relevance could help the platform maximize engagement, and that could, by extension, get more people to sign up, and it’s interesting to consider the potential of Topics as an advertising and segmentation tool too. But still, how, exactly, Twitter plans to bring in 98 million more users over the next two years remains unclear.

In terms of other areas of development, Twitter also says that more than 2 million profiles have now converted to Professional Accounts, helping to segment business users, and highlight new opportunities for potential ad customers, while it’s also experimenting with using search query data as another ad targeting tool, helping to showcase relevant ads to users who search for certain topics.

Twitter Professional Accounts

And like every other social platform, Twitter’s also experimenting with live-stream shopping:

“Walmart kicked off Cyber Week with the first-ever Live Shopping event on Twitter, driving 2M+ total livestream views and exceeding engagement expectations.”

It’s difficult to say what potential these elements hold, but it is interesting to note Twitter’s enthusiasm for its new ad targeting and business options, which could see them get more focus within its broader growth push.

Overall, it’s a good report card for Twitter, which highlights rising areas of opportunity – though it remains to be seen whether the platform will actually be able to reach its 2023 growth targets, and where, exactly, all that growth is going to come from.

In many ways, its new elements are still in development, and none of them are likely to become significant drivers of usage growth, unless it can tap into a key market segment or use case, and connect into a whole new audience because of that push.

But I don’t see that happening, so while Twitter’s growth seems reasonable and steady, it’s almost beating itself down by pushing for these big targets.

Maybe it has to – maybe, despite Dorsey moving on, Twitter’s shareholders and board are still holding the platform to these goals, and if they don’t meet them, further change will come.

It’s hard to say, but the bottom line is that Twitter is doing reasonably well, just not as good as it would like.

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps



Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

Well, this is certainly problematic.

Twitter has announced that, as of February 9th, it’s cutting off free access to its API, which is the access point that many, many apps, bot accounts, and other tools use to function.

That means that a heap of Twitter analytics apps, management tools, schedulers, automated updates – a range of key info and insight options will soon cease to function. Which seems like the sort of thing that, if you were Twitter, you’d want to keep on your app.

But that’s not really how Twitter 2.0 is looking to operate – in a bid to rake in as much revenue as absolutely possible, in any way that it can, Twitter will now look to charge all of these apps and tools. But most, I’d hazard a guess, will simply cease to function.

The bigger business apps already pay for full API access – your Hootsuite’s and your Sprout Social’s – so they’ll likely be unaffected. But it could stop them from offering free plans, which would have a big impact on their business models.

The announcement follows Twitter’s recent API change which cut off a heap of Twitter posting tools, in order, seemingly, to stop users accessing the platform through a third-party UI. 

Now, even more Twitter tools will go extinct, a broad spread of apps and functions that contribute to the real-time ecosystem that Twitter has become. Their loss, if that’s what happens, will have big impacts on overall Twitter activity.

On the other hand, some will see this as another element in Twitter’s crackdown on bots, which Twitter chief Elon Musk has made a personal mission to eradicate. Musk has taken some drastic measures to kill off bots, some of which are having an impact, but Musk himself has also admitted that such efforts are reducing overall platform engagement

This, too, could be a killer in this respect

It’ll also open the door to Twitter competitors, as many automated update apps will switch to other platforms. This relates to things like updates on downtime from video games, weather apps, and more. There are also tools like GIF generators and auto responders – there’s a range of tools that could now look for a new home on Mastodon, or some other Twitter replicant. 

In this respect, it seems like a flawed move, which is also largely ignorant of how the developer community has facilitated Twitter’s growth. 

But Elon and Co. are going to do things their own way, whether outside commentators agree or not – and maybe this is actually a path to gaining new Twitter data customers, and boosting the company’s income. 

But I doubt it.

If there are any third-party Twitter apps that you use, it’ll be worth checking in to see if they’re impacted before next week.

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Meta ‘Year of Efficiency’ call from Zuckerberg was what Street needed



Meta 'Year of Efficiency' call from Zuckerberg was what Street needed

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Meta Platforms Inc., center, departs from federal court in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

With one simple slogan, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg temporarily quelled investor discontent with his company’s multibillion-dollar investment into the futuristic metaverse.

“Our management theme for 2023 is the ‘Year of Efficiency’ and we’re focused on becoming a stronger and more nimble organization,” Zuckerberg said as part of the release of Meta’s fourth-quarter earnings report.

Following a 64% plunge in Meta’s share price in 2022, Wall Street cheered the report, sending the stock up almost 20%, extending a rally that began late last year. Based on after-hours pricing, Meta is trading at its highest since July.

Growth is not what’s getting investors excited. Meta reported better-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter, but sales still sank 4% from a year earlier, marking the third straight quarterly decline. And the forecast range for the first quarter suggests that year-over-year revenue could increase, but it could also fall again.

Rather, Zuckerberg’s commitment to cost cuts and efficiency is a sign that increasing profitability is important to Meta, which was known as a growth machine prior to last year’s slump.

“The first 18 years I think we grew it 20%, 30% compound or a lot more every year,” Zuckerberg said on the earnings call. “And then obviously that changed very dramatically in 2022, where our revenue was negative for growth, for the first time in the company’s history.”

In looking to the future, Zuckerberg struck a realistic tone.

“We don’t anticipate that that’s going to continue,” he said, regarding the recent drop in revenue. “But I also don’t think it’s going to go back to the way it was before.”

Meta lowered its estimates for total expenses in 2023 to be in the range of $89 billion to $95 billion, down from its prior outlook of $94 billion to $100 billion. In November, the company announced it would lay off over 11,000 workers, or 13% of its staff.

Zuckerberg said Meta will be more “proactive on cutting projects that aren’t performing or may no longer be crucial” and that it will emphasize “removing layers of middle management to make decisions faster.”

Meta is also reducing spending as it builds new data centers that are intended to be more efficient while still able to power the company’s various artificial intelligence technologies. Capital expenditures are now expected to be in the range of $30 billion to $33 billion for 2023 instead of $34 billion to $37 billion.

Zuckerberg is selling investors on a story they want to hear, acknowledging that the company got bloated and needed more financial discipline. One of Zuckerberg’s top deputies, technology chief Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, wrote a personal essay just a few days ago echoing that sentiment.

Still, Meta has plenty of challenges ahead, in terms of both costs and reviving its core ad business.

Meta’s Reality Labs unit, which is responsible for developing the nascent metaverse, lost $13.7 billion in 2022. Finance chief Susan Li told analysts that the company isn’t planning for any reduction in that unit anytime soon. Zuckerberg still sees it as the company’s future.

Digital advertising, meanwhile, is suffering from a struggling economy, and Li gave no indication that companies are planning to dramatically increase their spending in 2023.

Meta has also yet to recover from Apple’s 2021 iOS privacy update that made it harder to target users with ads. Li said the company has been improving its online advertising system, but Apple’s update is “still certainly an absolute headwind to our revenue number.”

During the question and answer part of the call, Zuckerberg was asked about Meta’s progress in generative artificial intelligence, which has become the latest hot thing in Silicon Valley. His answer indicated that Meta is pursuing opportunities there, but will be cautious in how quickly it proceeds. Running these programs is expensive, and Meta needs to ensure it can develop them affordably, he said.

Zuckerberg said that while Meta is researching how best to incorporate the new technology, he wants “to be careful not to get too ahead of the development of it.”

Correction: Meta’s earnings report and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comments occurred after the market close on Wednesday. An earlier version misstated the day.

WATCH: Meta grows in daily active users, shares pop on revenue beat

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Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month



Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month

Pinterest is taking a unique approach to Black History Month, with a new ‘Find Your Routes’ Black Travel Hub initiative, which aims to highlight places that have strong connections to Black history, while also showcasing Black-owned businesses.

As explained by Pinterest:

“Find Your Routes” is inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book aka “The Green Book”. The Green Book was a guidebook for Black travelers during the Jim Crow era that provided a list of accessible hotels, boarding houses, taverns, restaurants, service stations and other establishments throughout the country that served Black Americans patrons.”

The Black Travel Hub, which you can find here, will present a range of travel options, along with their history, with creators from the US, Colombia, Jamaica, Brazil and more, all taking part in presenting their city.

It could be a good way to provide education alongside inspiration in the app, while also helping people to connect, and support highlighted communities.

Pinterest will also be showcasing Black-owned businesses on Pinterest TV, while internally, it’s also hosting a company-wide event ‘to help employees gain knowledge about the history, present, and future of Black travel through the lens of Black Pinployees’.

As noted, it could be a good way to both spark important conversations, and inspire new travel journeys, which include an extra level of cultural understanding and education, along with a leisure break.

It’s an interesting take on the celebration either way, and it’ll be worth noting what sort of reaction the initiative gets, and whether it inspires more travel as a result.

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