Posted on April 29, 2009 by Roxanne Darling
Have you seen the latest Neilson reports that Twitter users fail to come back after a month at a seemingly high rate? I think one reason is because they don’t fully understand the depth and breadth of usefulness Twitter can offer. Like a quick pass through any collectibles shop, you ‘re likely to miss the gold that is co-mingled with all the garbage.
Currently, more than 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return the following month, or in other words, Twitter’s audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month’s users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent. For most of the past 12 months, pre-Oprah, Twitter has languished below 30 percent retention.
I am not surprised as one of Twitter’s “problems” is that is so easy to use. People are jumping on it like flies, because it is so easy to get started. It is deceptively difficult to truly understand how to leverage Twitter and what it’s core values are – many of which are still be discovered. Most new users are not well mentored, and hence give up before finding any gold at all. It’s also worth mentioning that at least some of those “users” are spam accounts that Twitter does a decent job of deleting or that voluntarily leave once they’ve gotten the click-thrus they wanted.
There are many experts who have been on Twitter for a few months or less telling people what it is and how to use it. It appears so accessible. But in reality, if someone starts describing it as “You just answer the question, ‘What are you doing now?'” I consider that a red flag of ignorance! As has been stated thousands of times already, few care that you “having a cup of coffee.” The discussion and conversation is all about context, and context shifts constantly and throughout multiple dimensions.
From people not knowing when to use an alias vs. a real name, to the spammers, to the false notion that more followers is better, to knowing how and when to use any of the hundreds of third-party apps that extend the functionality of Twitter &emdash; there is far more about Twitter people don’t understand than they do.
My current account on Twitter was created April 1, 2007. That was actually my second account, as I was first invited a few months prior by my friend Chris Brogan; I created an account immediately then deleted it after a month. At the time, before the SXSW explosion which was the first big learning opportunity for how to leverage Twitter, I thought it was one more distraction that I didn’t have time for. It was also very small, and the quality of conversation was very mundane – such is the making of genius! Also, at that time, we were producing our Internet tv show, Beach Walks with Rox, as a daily show, Sat and Sun included!
I consider myself experienced, having seen a lot of trends come and go through Twitter over the past two years. I have seen boat loads of tangible benefits, though yes, there is a lot of “noise” there too. I have worked out a system though whereby the return is excellent, and it takes me very little time each week. After all, I could be at the beach in Hawaii so I am quite focused on how I spend my time online!
I also have a systems analyst mind, so I learn things in part by understanding the mechanics of how they work. And also as a trainer, I track how people use the various web tools so I can pass on that knowledge to others. Naturally, it also informs our own creativity for using the tools too.
Twitter may turn out to be of little value for the “masses”. Still, I wish people didn’t abandon things before they had a decent understanding of how they actually work. Especially business people. It’s not easy understanding how to be a brand on Twitter, though it is being done very well by some.
Please check out a video case study presented at our first meeting of the Social Media Club (you are all invited! – next one is May 8th) that shows the other side of Twitter: it’s fast and accessible usefulness.
FWIW we offer training in how to use Twitter and would be delighted to work with any individuals or companies who want to use it as a business tool. And as you folks know, a tool is only as useful as the person using it, and if the person doesn’t know how to use it, well, please don’t blame the tool!