Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, April 29, 2021

fly away
This was all pre-Oprah, but there’s no reason to think that it won’t persist for the immediate future: A Nielsen study finds that Twitter is less sticky than other online hangouts, with 60 percent of new users abandoning their accounts within a month.

“It is clear that a retention rate of 40 percent will limit a site’s growth to about a 10 percent reach figure,” [Nielsen VP David Martin] said. “A high retention rate doesn’t guarantee a massive audience, but it is a prerequisite. There simply aren’t enough new users to make up for defecting ones after a certain point.”

Martin pointed to MySpace and Facebook.

“[When they] were emerging networks like Twitter is now, their retention rates were twice as high,” Martin wrote. “When they went through their explosive growth phases, that retention only went up, and both sit at nearly 70 percent today.”

I’ll point out right away that this parallels the traditional abandonment rate for blogging. I can’t find a straightforward update on the latest activity rate — for instance, Technorati’s “State of the Blogosphere” is fairly convoluted and limited — but as of a couple of years ago, roughly half of all newly-minted blogs would be abandoned in under three months.

No surprise in that similarity. Twitter is routinely described as a “microblogging” service, although after having used it for a good spell, I reject that characterization (I’ll expand more on that at a later date). But the common thread is that both formats demand regular (if not copious) posting of content, primarily writing. And for most people, it comes down to that: Even the shortest form of text exposition seems too laborious to bother doing regularly.

So, with that dissuading demand, is Twitter nothing more than a fad? Earlier this decade, blogging was projected to flame out due to the same dynamics. It sorta did — but only the notion that everyone and their mothers would maintain a personal blog. The blog scene evolved to the point where the format and medium is a routine part of the Web media landscape; the separate, mainstream activity that was supposed to be focused on blogging is now directed to social networks. Sort of a division of labor.

Twitter might very well evolve along the same lines, even though it’s a more centralized entity than the general blogging movement. The current dedicated Twitterers will continue to populate the site and drive expansion to other platforms and more focused tweet-groups (professional associations, etc.). Meanwhile, more casual users can experience 140-character expression via other clients like mobile devices, with output integrated into Facebook and MySpace pages, among others.

More than anything, this retention study is a cue for Twitter’s braintrust to start implementing the refinements that will encourage more people to stick around longer (and make the ultimate, and inevitable, monetization easier). Like it or not, it’ll spur changes, to the point where Twitter 2.0 won’t bear much resemblance to the current version.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/29/2009 10:00:41 PM
Category: Bloggin', Internet, Media, Society
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