The Twitter Quitters Story – Not All Bad News?

There’s a lot of discussion out there about a recent Nielsen report stating that 60% of new Twitter users stop using the service after one month. 60% is a big number but I find it interesting that the number has actually improved recently. From the report:

Currently, more than 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return the following month, or in other words, Twitter’s audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month’s users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent. For most of the past 12 months, pre-Oprah, Twitter has languished below 30 percent retention.

First of all, I don’t think that a single event like Oprah joining Twitter should be singled out as the reason for a 10% improvement (30% to 40%) in user retention. I actually think that the improvement is due to the much criticized suggested users list that Twitter introduced several months ago. Before the suggested users list was introduced, new users started with a blank slate – Following 0 and 0 Followers. Twitter has always provided a way for people to locate friends by email address (similar to Facebook) but for the non-tech crowd, this might only result in a few matches and there is no guarantee that those people are active on Twitter. And while there are some pretty good third-party Twitter directories out there, most new users don’t have a clue where to find those. As a result, many new Twitter users log on to their account and see just a few updates a day from a handful of people. When they compare this to other social networking sites like Facebook, this makes Twitter look useless and they stop using it. Twitter’s suggested users list certainly isn’t perfect, but at least it gives new users some content to look at versus a blank page.