Corporate Eye

Nielsen Report Shows Twitter Lacks User Retention

twitter-badge-follow-meTwitter might be growing to astronomical heights at record speed, but that growth isn’t as mind-blowing or valuable when you look at Twitter’s user retention rate.  A new report by Nielsen shows that Twitter is getting a lot of new users, but 60% of people who sign up for a new Twitter account don’t come back to the site a month later. 

According to the report, Twitter’s retention rate at 40% is higher than it has been in the past (previous months reported just 30% user retention rate).  However, according to an article on MediaWeek, both, “MySpace and Facebook had double Twitter’s retention rate at a similar growth stage, and their retention increased over time.” 

So can Twitter remain a growing force to be reckoned with for a sustained period of time or is this a fad that will disappear as fast as acid-washed jeans did in the 1980s? 

One thing is for certain, the most loyal Twitter users are exactly that — very loyal.  However, these statistics certainly make the case for Twitter experiencing problems in the future.  All marketers know it’s a lot cheaper to keep existing customers than to find new ones.  If Twitter can’t keep a growing list of customers, then there could be trouble ahead.

Of course, news this month from Twitter is that the team behind the brand is making monetization a top priority for the short term.  Will that help user retention or hurt it more?  I guess we’ll have to wait to see what they come up with. 

Any way you slice it though, it appears Twitter needs to rethink its business model if the brand is going to have a longer life cycle than the dot-coms of the 1990s that exploded and then came crashing down even faster and harder.

What do you think?

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

I don’t think retention would be as much of an issue if Twitter threw some more support resources out there. I know it’s a free service, but you just can’t ignore your user population. Speaking from personal experience, I submitted an online support request (they only way to formally communicate with Twitter) about a user posing as my employer. My status for this request status has been “Awaiting assignment to a help desk operator” for about two months now.

I received an automated e-mail when the request had been open for three weeks stating that they were having support difficulties, but that was it. The ticket is still out there and the user is still tweeting as if he/she were affiliated with my employer. I’d have my legal department get involved, but I wonder if Twitter would be any more responsive to them; I guess a cease & desist order might get their attention.

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