2015 was not a good year for Twitter.
The social network and microblogging service lost (and gained) a CEO, saw its share price plummet, and became something of a punching bag in tech news circles. Now Twitter, set to report both its fourth quarter and full-year 2015 earnings, is facing down its investors, all looking for a path to growth from chief executive Jack Dorsey.
Twitter's user base
A large part of Twitter's struggle comes down to how it compares to its competitors, namely Facebook. While Facebook saw close to 1.6 billion monthly active users in its most recent quarter, investment banking firm Stifel estimates Twitter's base will be closer to 311 million. To make matters worse, Facebook has seen a steady increase in its monthly active users metric for many years, while Twitter's user growth has begun to flatten in recent quarters.
Twitter has also struggled to grow its advertising revenue in recent years. Zuck's U.S. users are now worth more than twice as much as Twitter's, a number buoyed by Facebook's recent, concerted efforts in mobile and video advertising.
Perhaps the most worrying metric of all, users are now spending less time on Twitter compared to a year ago, for an average of 337 minutes. Meanwhile, Facebook users stay on its site a full 10 times longer, averaging 3,433 minutes in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The good news
Right now, Facebook has Twitter handily beat on both raw user scale and advertising revenue per user. But Twitter's users are potentially far more valuable than Facebook's. Adjusting ad revenue for time spent paints an entirely different picture of user worth: Facebook's users clock in at $3.74 compared to Twitter's massive $16.05. Twitter may have fewer users, but on at least one metric, they're worth more.