Oh Twitter. You can’t seem to catch a break can you?
Why aren’t you making money?
Why are you so unstable?
Why can’t you be like your older brother Facebook, he’s got a business model?
And now, why don’t users stick with you for more than a month?
When MySpace and Facebook were at the stage that Twitter is at today, their retention rates were, according to Nielsen, twice as high – and they’ve now stabilized at nearly 70 percent. Twitter’s high rate of churn will, if it continues, hamstring the service’s growth, says Nielsen’s David Martin: “A retention rate of 40 percent will limit a site’s growth to about a 10 percent reach figure … There simply aren’t enough new users to make up for defecting ones after a certain point. [Twitter] will not be able to sustain its meteoric rise without establishing a higher level of user loyalty.”
link: Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: The fickle Twitterer
Yes, yes I know a large, stable, user base is key to a site’s/service’s success. That isn’t something I care to debate, per se. What I think is absolutely key here, and why Twitter is going to emerge on top in the end, is that Twitter isn’t just a service, it’s a game changing new way of messaging.
Facebook and MySpace weren’t extremely new, even for their time. You built a personal corner and then found friends to connect with. Not revolutionary, it was evolutionary no doubt, but not revolutionary.
Twitter on the other hand really has changed things. Something that isn’t email, isn’t SMS, isn’t IM. You still have friends you connect with, but it’s more about talking than staking a claim on the Internet.
So, fine, Twitter might lose people after a month. I think “losing” them is a little harsh. I’d call it “hiatus”, I have a feeling people will be back, just like unused and dormant AOL accounts, when Twitter hits the next big jump.
Twitter will become more and more central to rapid messaging and as such maybe “dormant” accounts might really just be places where people receive information, but don’t need to log into Twitter to get.
Let’s not cast Twitter in a dying phase just as it hits mainstream attention. Time will tell, and I’m thinking it will be told in 140 characters or fewer.