60% of Twitterers Quit After a Month, but Does It Matter?

Some new data from Nielsen Online suggests that Twitter has a retention rate of just 40% after one month of usage—60% of users leave. This is despite Twitter's growth in user numbers, including its adoption by celebrities like Oprah (@oprah) and Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk), and news outlets like CNN (@CNN), as well as its growing role as a news service propelling it into the public eye. But will this figure represent trouble for Twitter?

Twitter Nielsen's research looked into the "follow versus follow-through" behavior of Twitter's users, and that's where the company turned up the 60% "Twitter quitter" figure. This corresponds with some thoughts out there about the micro-blogging service: Apparently the majority of first tweets are along the lines of "Trying to work out what Twitter's all about!" and if Nielsen is right, then six in ten users fail to ever grasp the core concept and then leave.

Nielsen's report also delivers more gloom about Twitter's numbers by showing a graph of audience retention rate versus "Internet reach levels,"—the latter being the degree of penetration, or a metric for popularity. According to this graph, Twitter's 40% retention will limit its success to a 10% reach. The report also goes another step, and compares Twitter's early successes—its retention rate was apparently just 30% earlier this year—with MySpace's and Facebook's, finding that its rate is roughly half that shown by the two older social networking sites.

Twitter But do these statistics actually spell trouble for Twitter and damage its potential to earn revenue, even when its monetization plans are just in the early stages? Actually, it doesn't—the report's basic premise is slightly flawed.

Twitter is different—that's why some find it difficult to understand. But once you're hooked into Twitter, then the idea of microblogging to "lifecast" and share information, and also read interesting tidbits from other users, is highly addictive. And unlike both Facebook and Myspace, Twitter doesn't require a large time commitment or effort on a day-to-day user basis, nor does it require much personal information up front. It's easy to get lots out of Twitter without much effort: A problem faced by both Myspace, as it evolved its user interface into a complexity of gaudiness, and Facebook with its redesigns and plethora of apps that let your "friends" pester you with requests to throw snowballs or battle zombies.

As a result, MySpace's star is rapidly fading—I suspect if Nielsen looked at its retention rate now it'd show a significant decline. And there's no guarantee Facebook will continue its meteoric rise.

Given that retention rates are a demonstrably dynamic figure, it's a little preemptive to proclaim doom for Twitter. It's really just a matter of getting people to "get" Twitter, and life-casting in general.

[Nielsen via BrandRepublic]

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  • T Doksone

    Follow the right people, because your Twitter experience basically depend on their tweets. It's like dealing with people in real life, you don't listen to everybody, especially the annoying one. Stick around long enough to utilize the platform and enjoy the benefits it gives you almost at no costs.

    See discussions by the media and bloggers about the Nielsen report: http://www.newsy.com/videos/is...

  • Kit Eaton

    @Sean, @Victor. The stats are being sensationalized I think... Twitter is a very different beast indeed.

  • Victor Jory

    I think the nielsen report did not account for users who log in through 3rd party apps which is about 60% of us.......

  • Sean Mulholland

    I kind of get the sense that you're implying that more people will eventually "get" Twitter over time, and that Nielsen is way off with it's predictions.

    But I think alot of this is relative. 10% reach is massive by any measure, unless one measures via comparisons to even more massive sites like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.

    Twitter doesn't have to be the next Google to be a successful, influential product. It can be big, without necessarily being ten-figure-IPO big.

    I think MySpace is fading largely due to the dual issues of Facebook and a failure to evolve. But I see almost zero turnover from Facebook to Twitter - they're different, they do different things. So people use both.

    But what Twitter does isn't necessarily for everyone, whereas what Facebook does is much more broad and 'human' (connecting friends).