People are disliking Twitter, according to its own numbers

Twitter phone

Twitter isn't hurting business-wise, but its user growth is going nowhere.

The social network saw no growth between the third and fourth quarter of 2015, staying flat at 320 million monthly active users.

However, when you exclude SMS Fast Followers, or people who only see tweets over text messages, monthly active users (MAUs) were actually down from 307 million in Q3 to 305 million in Q4. Twitter says total MAUs are now back to Q3 levels, but it still took a dip - and it's still not growing.

The company is moving forward, confident that "disciplined execution" will result in more people signing up, but for months now it's been treading water, and even sunk a bit.

Can Twitter not only retain users, but grow them at a rate that appeases investors? It feels like it's running out of time to make that happen.

The firm's stocks took a nosedive when its earnings were released, but rebounded in after-hours trading.

Changes coming to Twitter

However, Twitter isn't throwing in the towel yet (of course), and has some plans to address the more confusing bits of its service that are turning away users.

"We are going to fix the broken windows and confusing parts ... that we know inhibit usage and drive people away," Twitter said in its investor letter, singling out the .@name syntax and @reply rules as features that need tweaking.

The firm didn't specify what changes it will make, but it's at least acknowledging that a new user coming into Twitter doesn't know how to participate in the service right away and could be deterred from finding out. What's more, @ing can be clunky and burdensome even for seasoned users.

CEO Jack Dorsey said during the company's earnings Periscope broadcast that Twitter "has some really weird rules" specifically around the @reply rules and .@name syntax that "people just don't understand."

He said any changes and refinements coming to Twitter will be designed to help people who are core to the platform as well as new users.

Dorsey repeatedly harped on Twitter's definition as a live service, and the company said it plans to improve the timeline while maintaining timeliness. Earlier today, it switched on an algorithm that will show users relevant tweets it thinks they want to see, though it sounds like more changes are coming down the line.

Missing from today's earnings call was the appointment of new board members as well as talk on trolls and tweet character limits, items we outlined as ways Twitter can start saving itself.

By focusing on being the go-to source for live content, Twitter is defining how it believes it fits into peoples' lives, but we'll have to see if that - mixed with fixes and improvements - is enough to keep and grow users.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.