Twitter has reported its strongest growth in monthly active users in more than a year and a much better-than-expected quarterly profit, despite stiff competition from Facebook and Snapchat, sending its shares up 11%.

The microblogging service said average monthly active users increased 6% to 328m in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected 321.3m monthly active users, according to market research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

In February, Ipsos MRBI's quarterly Social Networking Tracker showed a significant increase in the proportion of social media users with a Twitter account in Ireland (a four-point rise to 29%), while daily usage of Twitter increased 2% to 33%.

Revenue fell 7.8% to $548.3m, its first drop since its initial public offering.

Net loss narrowed to $61.6m, or nine cents per share, in the first quarter ended 31 March, from $79.7m, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

Twitter's user growth has stalled in the past few quarters and the company has been trying to convince advertisers that it will strengthen its user base.

As part of its efforts, the company has updated its product offerings including live video broadcasts from its app and launched new features to attract users.

Twitter's weak performance has raised questions about CEO Jack Dorsey's leadership and whether the company would be bought by a bigger media firm.

Financial markets speculated about a sale of Twitter last year, but no concrete bids were forthcoming.

Excluding items, the company earned 11 cents per share, beating the estimate of 1 cent per share.

Twitter's advertising revenue fell 11% to $474m in the quarter, above the average analyst estimate of $442.7m, according to market research firm FactSet StreetAccount.