Truth Social struggles to grow U.S. user base

US News

Nearly two-and-a-half years after its launch, Truth Social is struggling to hang onto its small U.S. user base, according to new data on the microblogging platform launched by former President Donald Trump‘s media company.

So far in May, U.S. daily visits to Truth Social have dropped more than 21% from April, and more than 35% compared to March, according to digital intelligence platform Similarweb.

The site’s average number of monthly visits over the past year — just over 4 million from May 2023 to April 2024 — plummeted more than 39% from the prior 12-month period, from May 2022 to April 2023, Similarweb reported.

The traffic has declined even as Trump — the most prominent Truth Social user and the majority shareholder of its parent company, Trump Media — has saturated the national news with coverage of his criminal trial and White House bid.

And while the app saw a surge in visitors in the lead-up to Trump Media’s public trading debut in March, Similarweb’s most recent data show that those gains have already been erased.

The user and engagement data from Similarweb and two other data firms, collected and analyzed exclusively for CNBC, offers a glimpse into how Trump Media’s flagship product is developing — one that the company itself has yet to provide.

The company claims it does not track key indicators that social media platforms traditionally use to monitor their performance. Those include metrics like a site’s active user accounts and its daily and monthly visitor numbers, as well as its revenue per user and ad impressions.

Trump Media says it believes tracking those stats “might not align with the best interests” of the company or its stockholders, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company also said it “may never collect, monitor, or report any or certain key operating metrics.”

CNBC reached out to Trump Media for comment on the firms’ findings, and asked if it could provide any data of its own.

“Why would we comment on a fake news network reporting on fake analyses?” the company said through a spokesperson.

But the new analyses could be warning signs for Trump Media, whose business depends in large part on growing its user base.

“If you can’t demonstrate that you have a sizeable, active, engaged, growing audience, I don’t understand how you create a successful ad-supported social media business,” said David Carr, Similarweb’s editor of insights, news and research, in an interview.

Trump Media relies entirely on ad sales for its revenue, and discloses in its SEC filings that a decline in user engagement could hurt its business by making Truth Social less attractive to advertisers.

The data firms’ findings could also harden Wall Street analysts’ view of the company as a “meme stock” whose sky-high market capitalization is untethered to its business fundamentals.

“We basically don’t see anything in these digital indicators that would explain why the valuation is as high as it is,” Carr said.

Trump Media on Tuesday reported a first-quarter net loss of nearly $328 million on revenues of about $771,000, most of which came from advertising.

Nonetheless, as of Friday, the company had a market cap of slightly more than $8 billion.

The stock closed on Friday at $45.81 per share, which is roughly in the middle of the wide range of share prices, from a low of around $22 per share to a high of around $70, that TMTG shares have traded at since the company went public in March.

A single surge

Truth Social’s monthly active user numbers declined significantly in the U.S. in the final months of 2023, three different data firms told CNBC.

But the platform’s traffic rebounded in the first quarter of this year, as Trump Media closed in on a deal allowing it to start trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker DJT.

Similarweb tallied 781,954 active iOS and Android users on Truth Social in the U.S. that month, a more than 58% surge from February. GWS Magnify offered an even rosier analysis, calculating that Truth Social’s monthly user numbers hit a new peak of 1.4 million in March, which carried over into April.

News of Trump Media & Technology Group public trading is seen on television screens at the Nasdaq Marketplace in New York City on March 26, 2024.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Data firm Sensor Tower, meanwhile, calculated that the social media platform’s U.S. monthly active user level in the first quarter of 2024 rose 10% year over year.

But all three analysts linked that rise to the heavy press coverage surrounding Trump Media’s public merger and its highly volatile trading kickoff, when the stock rocketed up as much as 50%.

That meme-fueled frenzy seems unlikely to establish a long-term gain in traffic: In the four-week period ending May 19, for instance, daily active U.S. Truth Social users were down 19.7% year over year, according to Similarweb.

Truth Social’s headwinds

Truth Social also faces two major obstacles to building an engaged user base, according to GWS Magnify.

The first is a retention problem. Truth Social users on average check the site fewer than two days a week — falling behind apps like Facebook, X, TikTok, Reddit and Pinterest.

Truth Social users also clock fewer minutes of engagement on the platform that do the users of other social media networks. The vast majority of Truth Social users, 87%, also use Facebook. Another 51% are also on X, GWS Magnify reported.

“Compared to other social media platforms, Truth Social users are accessing the app much less frequently and are spending much less time on it per session,” the firm’s CEO, Dr. Paul Carter, told CNBC in an email.

“That will have a bigger impact on the prospects for Truth than any media limelight,” Carter said.

Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in the South Bronx in New York City on May 23, 2024. 

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

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