Loading the player...

What is a 'Monthly Active User (MAU)'

Monthly Active User (MAU) is a key performance indicator (KPI) often used by online games, mobile apps and social networking sites. MAU is calculated by counting the number of unique users for a 30-day period. Calculating MAU helps determine the value of a company and finds the number of users who participate with and return to the site on a monthly basis.

Breaking Down 'Monthly Active User (MAU)'

Broadly, monthly active users can be identified by an ID, email or username. For some companies, that requires a login and interaction, though what constitutes an interaction can differ between companies. Aside from a monthly basis, active users can be measured daily (daily active user) and weekly (weekly active user). Daily is often used by businesses that expect daily use, such as calendars, games and email. The weekly measurement is most often used by social communities or message boards, forums, analytics tools and productivity apps. The monthly active user metric is most used by business-to-business applications, such as email and bookkeeping/accounting applications.

Monthly Active User (MAU) Calculations

Facebook considers a user to be a MAU if he has logged in and “used” Facebook within the month. “Used” is defined as interaction with the website: liking, sharing, commenting, messaging or clicking through on a link. If a user does not interact for a 30-day period, that user is considered inactive.

Twitter counts active users as those who follow at least 30 accounts and are followed back by at least one-third of those accounts. The MAUs are determined by counting active users who have signed in within the month.

MAUs at Google+ are those who have an account and used a Google service at least once in the month.

Monthly Active User (MAU) Criticism

There has been much criticism of just how monthly active user figures are calculated, as well as whether the metric is relevant. For example, in Twitter's fourth quarter earnings call in 2015, it was stuck with the unenviable task of explaining why it had lost four million monthly active users during the previous quarter. The reason, it turns out, is because most of those four million users did not actually use Twitter. Rather, they had been counted when the iPhone Safari web browser performed an automatic Twitter data pull. After the operating system in use then updated, those users would no longer be counted. The question remains: how accurate are MAU numbers overall? At the time, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams said "it’s become so abstract to be meaningless,” as reported in an article in tech news journal Recode. 

Also in 2015, Facebook revised the way it defines MAU in response to skepticism of how accurate its figures were. It would no longer count what is known as "third-party pings" by people who were not actively using Facebook but had only shared content or activity via a website or application that was integrated via Facebook login.

  1. User Fee

    A user fee is a sum of money paid in order to gain access to ...
  2. Interactive Media

    A method of communication in which the program's outputs depend ...
  3. Social Payment

    Social payment is the use of social media to transfer money to ...
  4. Conference Call

    A conference call is an event where investors can hear detailed ...
  5. Facebook Credits

    Facebook credits were a virtual currency which could be used ...
  6. Open Banking

    Open Banking is a system that provides a user with a network ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Analysts: Twitter Should Shift Its User Focus

    Some analysts want Twitter to concentrate more on daily active users than monthly active users.
  2. Small Business

    Facebook’s Advantage Over Other Social Media

    Discover the elements that define Facebook, which boasts 2.23 billion monthly users, who cement the company as the world's top social media outlet.
  3. Insights

    Why Twitter's Problems Aren't Going Away

    As Twitter considers a paid membership option to save its business, we breakdown what its biggest hurdles are.
  4. Small Business

    Facebook Users Might Earn Money Via "Tip Jar" (FB)

    Facebook is considering a plan to allow users to earn money from its platform by using tipping jars and making sponsored posts.
  5. Investing

    How to Analyze Facebook Stock (FB)

    Learn about the key drivers of Facebook's results that are important for investors, as these metrics will impact the stock price of the company.
  6. Investing

    Is the Twitter Business Model Broken? (TWTR)

    Understand what Twitter is and how it seeks to increase its user base as well as its quarterly revenue. Learn whether its business model is broken.
  7. Small Business

    Snapchat Passes Twitter in Daily Users (TWTR)

    Snapchat surpasses Twitter in number of daily active users.
  8. Small Business

    What Facebook Owns That Other Social Media Do Not (FB)

    Examine Facebook's competitive advantage to understand how the network effect and application suite set it apart from other social media platforms.
  9. Small Business

    How Twitter And Facebook's Business Models Compare

    Twitter and Facebook have both had a meteoric rise, but the firms have used different strategies to achieve success.
  10. Small Business

    How Facebook Beat MySpace

    Facebook became the leader of social media by offering users a clean design and the right mix of customization options.
  1. Who Are Facebook's Main Competitors?

    Explore the different social media networking sites and internet companies that are competing directly with Facebook, such ... Read Answer >>
  2. How does Twitter make money?

    Learn how Twitter earns revenue, including how the social media company uses three targeted advertising streams, data farming ... Read Answer >>
  3. How reliable are Glassdoor salaries?

    Glassdoor salary information may or may not be accurate, as the website offers users an opportunity to enter salary information ... Read Answer >>
  4. What are the primary activities of Michael Porter's value chain?

    Understand the primary activities of Michael Porter's value chain, and learn how a company can optimize those activities ... Read Answer >>
  5. Is Apple Pay safe and free?

    Learn more about Apple Pay, one of Apple's newest and most metamorphic programs that is changing the way consumers purchase ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center