Shorting Twitter – Again

Just one more reason why I am short on Twitter.

Mediaweek (via Mathew Ingramblog | twitter) reports on Nielsen research that found the microblogging platform has a retention rate of just 40 per cent. Admittedly, this is a 33 per cent improvement on previous year’s 30 per cent retention rate but still…

This tells me that while Twitter can pass the “what” and “so what” questions from users, mostly based on the overly evangelical zeal in its proponent’s eyes, it fails to answer the “now what” question.

Users are happy to sign up to the belle du jour but can’t work out what to do with their new account – despite the service adding “suggested users to follow” and conversation trends (on As Mediaweek goes on to say:

Of course, it’s early in Twitter’s development, and the average Web user may simply need more time to understand its benefits and change their behavior.

However, Facebook and MySpace’s retention rates were far higher in this period of their lifecycle but they are both feature rich platforms. Could it be that Twitter’s simplicity is both its attraction and its downfall?

To remind readers, I am yet to be convinced that Twitter will prove a long-term technology that will cross-over into the mainstream marketing mix like, for instance, email has.


Nick Carr has predictions on what this means for Twitter’s growth pattern. Interesting to note that the current churn rate will limit Twitter’s growth to 10 per cent per annum – and eventually it will run out of new users to replace the lost ones.

The Financial Times also covers this, referencing that Facebook’s “robust retention rates” means it “has little to fear from the flurry of interest in Twitter.”

eMarketer has details of Twitter’s remarkable growth and some nice graphs for client presentations. However, it’s frustrating that no total user numbers or demographic data is being released for marketers. Although as the site carries no advertising, apart from to related services and companies built on its API, this is unsurprising.


Nielson re-ran its research to take into account the (impressive) volume of use that is off-platform, on third party apps and the like and came up with the same conclusion.


2 Responses to Shorting Twitter – Again

  1. brian says:

    signed up and deleted my account within a week. I guess I’m adding to those statistics. I thought it was the most useless and annoying “social media” product to hit the internet. Maybe I didn’t give it a full chance, but there was nothing more annoying than sifting through @reply messages from all of my friends.

    Back to regular old email and text messaging for me.

  2. […] utter simplicity of Twitter is the reason I’m not shorting it (like my friend and log inspirer Ed Lee). I still say Twitter is the “cockroach” of social media. It’s going to take more […]

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