WhatsApp Bigger Than Twitter? In What Reality?

April 29, 2013

Here’s a nice joke: WhatsApp is bigger than Twitter. I haven’t made it up – this one comes directly from WhatsApp.

Measuring Twitter and WhatsApp

WhatsApp, a messaging service I enjoy using, came up with a big announcement. They are now bigger than twitter:

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum […] said that the app is now larger than Twitter by monthly active users. He wouldn’t say exactly how many the company had, just that it was north of 200 million users.

Great.

So great that it was regurgitated by a large number of blogs out there, without a lot of thought about the reality.

Here’s my own newsflash for you:

I am bigger than the iPhone, WhatsApp and Twitter put together. I am 36 years old. Which is bigger in age.

Apples to apples, oranges to oranges.

WhatsApp and Twitter have very little in common. Their use cases are radically different, so I can’t see this comparison making any sense.

WhatsApp is used individually. I create groups and send messages to them. Most of it is small interactions between two people and sometimes a bit more. Nothing needs to be stored for long, and even if it does – it is done for the benefit of WhatsApp themselves.

Twitter on the other hand is a broadcasting tool. People send their messages, and others follow them and may or may not see the messages. The tools that are used with Twitter revolve around searching or re-sharing past messages (retweeting). Twitter is heavy in analytics and ads – and it is done publicly and not only in the backroom for the benefit of Twitter.

In a way, each Tweet has a longer life than a WhatsApp message. It requires more processing and storage than a WhatsApp message. And it gets “received” as an “inbound” message a lot more than a WhatsApp message. Most of my tweets usually get tens of clicks on the links embedded in them, which means that they are seen by even more people. They get received by about a 1,000 people – at least theoretically.

WhatsApp messages? Largest audience I’ve ever had for a WhatsApp message is 5 people. No match for a single tweet.

WhatsApp might have more active users than Twitter, but it is definitely not asbig.

Don’t get me wrong – WhatsApp isn’t an easy operation to run. But then again, I am still bigger than iPhone, WhatsApp and Twitter put together. Now Retweet THAT or send it on WhatsApp to your friends.


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  1. I don’t think comparing the 2 tools are efficient. Indeed, whats’app is more about text messages with friends where as Twitter is about talking to a community.
    That said, I love and use the 2 of them !

  2. You went off-tangent. Still haven’t rebut whether Whatsapp has more active users. I’m from Asia, & over here Twitter as social media is seen as passe. Millions have already switched to messaging apps like Whatsapp, Wechat, Line, Kakaotalk, Viber. As a “broadcasting tool”, Twitter also lacks longevity in this part of the world. Friendster was more dominant last decade, & Instagram is more preferred these days.

    1. manc,

      You are correct that WhatsApp has grown considerably since then, which I have totally missed a year ago.

      That said, there are a few things to consider:
      * When looking and analyzing such global services, they need to be looked at from global scale and not only regionally. Asia here is a reason.
      * Since Twitter and WhatsApp are DIFFERENT and solve DIFFERENT needs, it is hard to compare them.

      I read this interesting post today about the measurement of Twitter and the fact that it should not be limited to active users, but rather be extended to the number of users it affects: http://www.radiofreemobile.com/twitter-q3-14a-good-company-bad-stock/

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