While there was no “quantitative” lift from Trump, Noto said on the call with analysts that “the President’s use of Twitter has broadened the awareness of how the platform can be used and it shows the power of Twitter. When he tweets, it sparks conversation and discussion.”
Noto also said the fact that many high-profile individuals use Twitter to communicate strengthens the company’s differentiation “at a macro level.” “Having the world’s leaders on our platform, talking about global issues, people being passionately expressing their points of view, that’s all positive for Twitter, and that’s what we’re focused on,” he said.
Overall, Twitter added 2 million net monthly active users in the fourth quarter, to stand at 319 million (up 4% year over year). By contrast, Facebook added 72 million monthly active users in the most recent quarter, a 17% increase from the year prior, with 1.84 billion MAUs in Q4 2016. According to Noto, the primary factors driving user growth in the most recent quarter were product changes and marketing.
Twitter’s Q4 earnings and weak first-quarter 2017 forecast disappointed investors, and the company said advertising sales will continue to lag. It posted its slowest quarterly revenue growth to date of 0.9%, with sales of $717 million, and reported adjusted earnings of 16 cents per diluted share. Wall Street analysts had expected revenue of $740 million and adjusted EPS of 12 cents.
The 2016 election did help fuel Twitter’s nascent live-video streaming efforts. Viewership of the U.S. presidential debates hit 4.2 million unique viewers during the final debate, and the company said it counted 7.5 million unique viewers for BuzzFeed News’ election-night special and a record 8.6 million for President Trump’s inauguration live streams.