Will Twitter live up to its promise?
OK, social networking gurus – which of the three most popular, buzzed-about services has real long-term potential: Facebook, MySpace or Twitter?
If you’ve been following the news lately – any news at all – you’d think all that anyone did, from Oprah to Obama, was tweet and twitter all day long. The news media has taken to writing Twitter-angled stories on just about everything, from swine flu to saving TV shows.
But the question many people are asking is can Twitter put any money where the media’s big mouths are?
David Martin, vice president of primary research for Nielsen Online blogged about just that today, revealing that “more than 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return the following month.” That makes the service’s retention rate just 40 percent, a churn rate that would drop cable operators to their knees.
Martin goes on to conclude that at that rate, Twitter ultimately will have a 10 percent total reach. If that conclusion pans out, Twitter will have a hard time delivering on its early promise, and that early promise is mostly defined by buzz anyway.
Meanwhile, both MySpace and Facebook boast retention rates as high as 70 percent, demonstrating that users find both networks useful and additive to their lives. So far, I agree with them. I’m on Twitter — there’s that link again, folks – but I still find Facebook far more interactive and rewarding. I know people respond and retweet on Twitter, but I find they are much more likely to engage in a conversation on Facebook.
There is another argument, however, that Twitter has depth – largely through its search capabilities — that Facebook does not. I think people are just figuring out how to use Twitter (here’s one article that may help you get going on Twitter and make it more relevant for you and your business). Perhaps as people get more familiar and fluent with Twitter, retention will improve.