The wacky photo sharing app that all the kids are talking about these days, Instagram, recently overtook that wacky microblogging app that all the kids are also talking about, Twitter, in terms of monthly active users. Instagram crossed the 300 million user threshold, while Twitter is hanging out in the vicinity of “only” 284 million. And the peeps behind Twitter straight up “don’t give a $#!t.”
Defining “Monthly Active User”
In a recent interview with Fortune, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams dismissed the numbers and refuted their significance. “It’s a question of breadth versus depth,” he stated. “Why is [the number of active users] the only thing we talk about? The crazy thing [is] Facebook has done an amazing job of establishing that as the metric for Wall Street.”
Williams went on to question how “monthly active user” is defined. “I believe it’s the case that if you use Facebook Connect—if you use an app that you logged into with Facebook Connect—you’re considered a Facebook user whether or not you ever launched the Facebook app or went to Facebook.com.
“What does that mean?” Williams questioned. “It’s become so abstract [it’s] meaningless. Something you did caused some data in their servers to be recorded for the month. […] I think we’re on the wrong path.”
Impact vs. Numbers
Williams argued that the way the two social media services are used and the way they affect the world at large is of greater importance than the number of active users.
“If you think about the impact Twitter has on the world versus Instagram, it’s pretty significant,” he said. “It’s at least apples to oranges. Twitter is what we wanted it to be. It’s this real-time information network where everything in the world that happens on Twitter—important stuff breaks on Twitter and world leaders have conversations on Twitter. If that’s happening, I frankly don’t give a $#!t if Instagram has more people looking at pretty pictures.”