Twitter retention rates are worth considering

The plot is nearly always the same – social networks start off with a technologically clued in vanguard using them, then thanks to word of mouth their user base starts to grow, until that magical moment when the media starts latching on. At that point new users signing up skyrockets alongside hyperbolic predictions about how this new platform/network will change the world.

The latest blockbuster is obviously Twitter, which had a huge boost in the US during April when the hugely influential Oprah Winfrey dedicated time and space to the social network, and also set up her own twitter account @oprahwinfrey (with over 3,000 followers).

The New York Times, though, has an interesting article worth considering when you’re weighing up how much time and effort to dedicate to different social networks. It examines the retention rate for Twitter, and finds that for most of last year it was in and around 30% – while this year it has edged up to about 40% (source Nielsen Online).

What that means, in simple terms, is that only 40% of people setting up an account on twitter are still there a month later. They come, influenced by media events, word of mouth etc try it out, and then fade away. Not very encouraging, particularly when placed in contrast with Facebook and Myspace – both of which have retention rates of around 60%.

Does that mean that twitter isn’t worth bothering with?
Not at all. There are two things to consider about twitter that make it worthwhile for your online marketing:
1) Ease of setup – it’s free, and can be set up in seconds. With Myspace and Facebook, to do it properly you need to customise the look of your account page, and spend time adding useful features. Twitter setup is much simpler (though we recommend that you do use a customised background for your twitter page).
2) Networking possibilities
While plenty of people sign up to twitter and then forget about it, there are a whole host of important people in various different industries that use it daily – and due to the open nature of the relationships, you can start building up important contacts quickly and effectively.

So, the moral? Do work on your twitter acount, but take the ‘twitter is the new google/facebook/etc’ talk with a pinch of salt. See it for what it is, and use it to your advantage.

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