Nielsen reported last week that the retention rate of new Twitter users was pretty bloody, with only 30-40% of new users returning a month after joining.
More than 60% of US Twitter users fail to return the following month. Twitter’s retention rate is about 40%. For most of the past year, pre-Oprah, Twitter has languished below 30% retention.
Many have pointed out these numbers do not take into account third party clients like Tweetdeck. For the sake of this post I am assuming that no matter the percentages, Twitter needs to improve the experience for new users and retain more of them. The fact that so many new users do not “get it” right away is not surprising (@’s and #’s be damned).
Twitter is not doing much to improve that intake process.
Weak Suggested Users
Twitter’s only big push to improve these numbers has been the suggested users list they started 2 months ago. The suggested users, in its current state, provide little value to a new user. Twitter defines these suggested users as:
a bit like your local book store’s staff picks. (We) developed a program that scans active Twitter accounts for a bunch of key ingredients such as how much of the profile is filled out
Where is the relevance to me personally?
Much of the value of Twitter comes from the personalization, shaping the information to be as relevant to our personal needs as possible. Random popular users are more novelty.
Below are some of my suggestions for Twitter.
- Location – Suggest users within a certain distance and create better location search options
- Industry – Allow users to define their industry with keywords, suggest users accordingly
- Interests – Mine a new user’s bio and ongoing tweets, suggest users accordingly
Show me people connected to me in these ways and I have something to talk about with them right away. I also have an immediate group of highly relevant tour guides and ambassadors to teach me how the game is played.
Ongoing Suggested Users
Keep these suggestions coming. List them in the sidebar or send an email or anything that gives suggested users a higher profile and does not depend upon new users discovering it on their own. I may miss it at signup. I may give you more information that improves the process.
A Real User’s Guide
I remember being pretty confused by Twitter when I first signed up. The basics are simple: type message and send. The breadth of the service, however, is quite complex. A couple short and simple video demos would do wonders for explaining to new users the potential the service holds.
If I see Twitter me this and Twitter me that on CNN and my local radio station, I might go sign up, but the people are what makes me stay. Finding people that provide me with information, entertainment, and relationships creates user investment. Once Twitter learns how to quickly provide that value to new users, their retention rate will rise accordingly.
None of It Really Matters
I would like to see Twitter make their intake process a little more user friendly, but at the end of the day, they don’t need to. I am sure their investors are eager to see retention rates rise, but Twitter already has insiders from tech, media, and Hollywood signed up and passionate about their product.
Twitter is a different type of service and can easily fail to appeal to the masses in the same way as Facebook, Myspace, or even LinkedIn. The important fact remains that Twitter has a rabid and influential customer base in their corner, and that is very valuable.