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Will Grandma Ever Use Twitter? Doubts Cause Stock to Dive

Twitter
Twitter

Twitter's first earnings call could be described with the hashtag #mixedbag.

The company's earnings were higher than expected — $243 million in revenue, higher than the $218 million expected. But people aren't joining like they used to. Twitter also reported 241 million active monthly users, only a 3.8 percent increase from the previous quarter and the lowest growth rate since the company's IPO.

This lackluster user growth sent the company's stock tumbling 21 percent as of mid-Thursday morning after brokerage firms found themselves split on whether or not Twitter was mainstream enough to compete with other social networks like Facebook, which boasts 945 million monthly active users.

The problem? While Twitter has been lauded as a tool for social revolution, an efficient way for media-savvy users to consume the news and an excellent source of outrageous selfies, chances are that your grandparents aren't using it.

Interacting on Facebook is relatively simple: Add a link, hit "Post," and "like" things that your friends share. Twitter, on the other hand, has its own language. Users have to learn how to DM (direct message), use hashtags and, IMHO, learn occasionally cryptic acronyms. Heavy users often complement their experience with third-party programs like TweetDeck and Bit.ly.

On the call, Twitter CEO Richard Costolo repeatedly stressed the need to make the service easier to use in order to attract new users, and at the same time, "preserve the experience that core users love." The company, appropriately enough, tweeted highlights from the call.

Costolo also stressed the need to "leverage our media relationships" and drive traffic towards advertisers. Over the last few years, Twitter has taken steps to promote content from advertisers, most notably by adding expanded, attention-grabbing tweets.