Twitter users apparently have much less impetus to stick around on the micro-blogging website according to a research document released which compared it to Facebook and Myspace.
David Martin, vice president of primary research for research analyst firm Nielsen Online, wrote in a blog that Twitter has a retention rate of around 40 percent, which means that more than 60 percent of Twitter users stop using the service a month after joining in.
The online service, which allows users to post messages shorter than 140 characters, has received some major boosts from a string of US celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, President Obama, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears and Jimmy Fallon.
Twitter has now officially reached mainstream culture, but it reduced the churn rate by a mere 10 percent following Ms Winfrey's very public backing of the service. Martin posits that the high retention rate will "limit a site’s growth to about a 10 percent reach figure".
More worrying for Twitter, Facebook and Myspace had retention rates twice as high as Twitter as they grew into massive social networking websites. Both services have currently retention rates of 70 percent.
Nielsen's figure though hides a much bigger picture. It is very likely that the research firm is only considering traffic coming from third party applications like Tweetdeck or from mobile apps like Tweetfon which have been massively adopted by Twittter users.
A quick look at our Twitter stream shows that around 50 percent of tweets doesn't come from the website itself. In comparison, most of Facebook and Myspace traffic comes directly to the websites rather than through other platforms.
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We don't really know how Nielsen Online managed to get those figures in the first place. Twitter won't give out any stats but Nielsen reckons that the micro-blogging service doubled in size in March 2009 (number of unique visitors compared to February 2009) to reach 13.9 million users, partly due to the Oprah effect.
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