It's pretty absurd for me to predict a long term demise of Twitter. Nonetheless, I'm going to do it, especially after reading this article, brought to my attention by Manny Hernandez. Here's a copy of the article:
Twitter Users Don’t Stick Around
April 28, 2009
-By Mike Shields, Mediaweek
Twitter’s audience is exploding. Now if only they could get people to stick around.
Over 60 percent of people who sign up to use the popular (and tremendously discussed) micro-blogging platform do not return to using it the following month, according to new data released by Nielsen Online. In other words, Twitter currently has just a 40 percent retention rate, up from just 30 percent in previous months–indicating an “I don’t get it factor” among new users that is reminiscent of the similarly-over hyped Second Life from a few years ago.
Nielsen found that Twitter’s unique user base doubled in March. But most newbies aren’t coming back. “People are signing up in droves,” wrote David Martin, vp, primary research, Nielsen Online in a blog posting on Tuesday (Apr. 28). “But despite the hockey-stick growth chart, Twitter faces an uphill battle in making sure these flocks of new users are enticed to return to the nest.”
Martin sees this low retention rate a long-term problem for Twitter, citing growth patterns for previous Web sensations. According to Martin, a low retention rate limits how much a site can consistently grow its audience ; by his calculation, a 40 percent retention rate results in just a 10 percent reach level. That limits how big a property can get over time, since there are a finite number of potential new users.
“A high retention rate doesn’t guarantee a massive audience, but it is a prerequisite,” he wrote. “There simply aren’t enough new users to make up for defecting ones after a certain point.”
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 . But Martin sees ominous signs. For one, previous Web calculation MySpace and Facebook had double Twitter’s retention rate at a similar growth stage, and their retention increased over time.
“Twitter has enjoyed a nice ride over the last few months, but it will not be able to sustain its meteoric rise without establishing a higher level of user loyalty,” wrote Martin. “Frankly, if Oprah can’t accomplish that, I’m not sure who can.”
I just can’t get into Twitter. I won’t lie, I’ve tried. But for a person who has permanently deleted Blackberry Messenger or BBM (perhaps the one and only thing millions of teens across the nation purchase Blackberry’s for), up-to-date,second by second updates on your life is unappealing to me. Just the thought leaves a bitter Blackberryish taste in my mouth.
I believe that this blog allows me to organize thoughts for a particular sector (or at least I try to stay as much as possible within that specific sector) but twittering random thoughts has no appeal to me, either as a writer or a reader. However, where I do find twittering EXTREMELY useful is for conferences that I am not able to attend. For instance, I was able to stay up to date with the Health 2.0 conference by various twittering of the event, which was easier for me than making the 4 hour drive to Boston with one working eye.
I’m looking forward to see if twitter is some sort of fad or if it keeps up. I mean, look at the paradigm shifts:
30 years ago if you met a girl in a bar you gave her your phone number
20 years ago you would give her your pager number
10 years ago you would give her your cell number/AIM screen name
5 years ago you’d give your Email
2 Years ago you would tell her you’d PIN her (via Blackberry)
Today you would just tell her you’re on Facebook (implying to befriend her)
Next year, will we be telling new people to just follow you on twitter?
I sure hope not. Call me an old soul (or call me the only Tech writer who has a hint of Luddite in his blood), but I still value the human interaction with people, and with all of these tools it’s making it easier and easier for people to keep away from that physical interaction, instead opting for a relationship entirely behind a electronic piece of hardware that says “MacBook” in front.
Am I worried about people who have experienced the old way of electronics? NO.
Am I worried about younger generations with all the technology that pushes “stay indoors on your electronics” rather than “get out there, meet people, participate?” YES.