Twitter is dead

3291616685_9a9bf42b3b1Well, maybe not, but it sure ain’t sticky and it’s not looking like it has legs. According to this article, called “Twitter users not sticking around”, more than 60 percent of Twitter users stop using the service a month after joining. That eqautes to a 40 percent retention rate. At a similar stage, says the article, Facebook’s retention rate was twice as high. Same with MySpace. I have to say that I am one of those people who went Twitter-crazy for a month and then got tired of the limited functionality and never-ending glitchiness of the site and returned full-time to the wicked but loving arms of Facebook.

While it has some legitimate applications, on a macro level Twitter has all the makings of a fad that we’ll all laugh about fondly in a decade. Celebrity and newscaster tweeting has already become rote fodder for TV comedians. TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley, never one to pull punches, even implied the service was pointless and annoying during an in-show commercial Tuesday promoting TNT’s Twitter accounts. Back in the day, we’d have said Twitter has jumped the shark.

From a PR and marketing perspective, that doesn’t mean we need to abandon Twitter. Quite the contrary. We need to exploit its capabilities as much as we can. But we also need to keep in mind that its influence may very well have peaked.

From my view, Facebook is a much more effective play for all but customer service applications.

Posted by Joe Paone

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8 Responses to Twitter is dead

  1. junger says:

    It’s not surprising that most Twitter users fall off after a month or two — it takes a while to get used to it.

    I don’t have a link, but I remember seeing a story that most users quit after a month, but then come back and stick around.

  2. Joe P. says:

    Hi Jason,

    I’d love to see that link! Really, I was just trying to pass some surprising information on, be a bit provocative, and stir up some discussion.

    My main problem with Twitter, besides the constant glitchiness of it (everyone has told me to stop using the Web version, but I am still trying to figure out what the best Windows client would be… any suggestions? I don’t have a BB or iPhone, so I’m not interested in a mobile client), is that keeping on top of it is a 24-hour proposition. I find it much easier for whatever reason to keep up with people’s Facebook updates than their Twitter updates. I find that I use Twitter most at night if I’m looking for something to read. I just cherrypick interesting links that people post.

    I love Twitter, and I think it has enormous potential for many things, don’t get me wrong. I love the immediacy of it. I just don’t know if all of this energy surrounding it will last. I know how faddish and fickle our culture is, and how limited our collective mental bandwidth is. I guess, personally, I only have time to devote to one service, and I like Facebook better. Plus I feel a bit squeamish about posting the same things to both Twitter and Facebook.

  3. Alexandra says:

    One group that is having zero luck on twitter is smaller indie bands; it seems no one follows them, since all they would do is plug their shows. But the lead singer from Decemberists has a popular following. I like Twitetr for work-y things – research, following other writers and PR execs, and those otherwise obsessed with teh internets. When Larry King and Barbara Walters (and Liz Smith and Martha Stewart and Joy Behar!) joined up though, it felt inauthentic; those media icons are just coat-tail riding the trend. Twitter is fun that should be just one stop on what you read online during the day: no one website will be everything to everyone for long.

  4. trishylicious says:

    IMO… there is a place for Twitter AND the other social networks. But, I don’t think Twitter is really a social network. It’s a little different the way people are using it.

    Originally, I remember back in the day, Twitter was kind of started as a way to mass-text a lot of your friends. The folks who started doing the moblog events back in 2006, 2007 would have you sign up and accept that you would receive texts. Remember there were things where everyone would gather together in one spot and do something like tickle each other or laugh or all wave hi, and it would be a huge group of folks. They would text the group telling them when/where to meet, and Twitter was the simplest way to do this, an app written to send/receive text messages to/from a huge group of people. I signed up a while ago for this very reason to get texts for local moblogs. But I don’t think I ever got any and then turned off the mobile feature and ditched it for a year or so.

    One by one a bunch of my friends started using it more. A few had signed up but not really used it, or not very often. This was before you could log in and livejournal by text message though and facebook too. Now they all have those features built in I think.

    A lot of folks who are connected via iphone and other fully functional wifi/mobile portable small devices really love twitter. it’s very simple to use for them and easy to send messages. it’s also very simple/barebones.

    If you’re connected via a laptop or regular computer, twitter just seems kind of boring for being on the web.

    Besides sending a text message to yourself so you don’t forget important shit you think up at 3am while drinking with good friends, or wherever you are when inspiration hits…

    One thing I’ve been noticing it’s good for though — a cheap and easy to maintain RSS feed. Our PR dept. has been using it to announce new things all over the various websites we have. We publish a bunch of crafts magazines. You might be slightly interested in knitting or beading but your real love is spinning or jewelry-making. So you don’t want to read every website or newsletter every day. Our PR person scans everything and posts what’s new all over our conglomerate of websites. A new project, a new DVD, a new book or guest post by so&so on X website. Someone who likes crafts, for example, but doesn’t want to log in to all 20+ websites we run every day to see what’s new – can sign up as a Twitter follower of ours and see what’s new, all in a glance. We can put this feed into our sites too. That part is very cool.

    I will admit, I think that retweeting is kind of dumb unless you really have an important thing to say about something. And it’s almost impossible to do that in 140 characters or less. Especially since it’s going to be less once you add in that code to do so. But, if you have a blog, and someone posts something really important in your industry and they tweet it… then you also have your blog set up to auto-publish everything on Twitter, and provide some valuable discourse on someone’s post and that is the way it goes, well maybe.

    Anyway, I am notorious for saying technology is lame and never going to make it because of X and then X comes along and gets addressed by developers and/or the barrier to that is then removed and the tech thrives. Then I look like a giant idiot. So I’ll shut up now…

  5. castercomm says:

    Hey Alex,

    It seems like MySpace is still the social networking tool of choice for the lion’s share of indie bands. I wonder if that will change. I know that was what fuzz.com was all about, right? Yet MySpace still rules the roost. Bands are the only reason I’m on MySpace anymore, and still, I barely ever log on because it feels so fricking trashy on there. All of my real online social interaction has moved onto FB and Twitter.

    Interestingly, also, because of FB and Twitter, I very rarely check my personal e-mail account anymore.

    Twitter is definitely as wonky as you wanna be, and I follow some wonky people. I’ve made some good work-related connections as well as social connections there. It’s just always this gnawing feeling that I missed a ton of stuff. The experience feels perpetually incomplete. I suspect this is probably entirely due to how I interact with the service, hence my wondering about the best client to use.

    I agree about the inauthenticity thing, and I love your last sentence. If I just had the time to social network and surf the web 24/7 and still get paid, I would be thrilled, because I experience the power of it on a daily basis, both personally and professionally.

  6. castercomm says:

    Hey Trishy,

    You’re the furthest thing from an idiot possible. I learned so much from reading your post just now.

    I remember the flash mob stuff but I wasn’t aware that it fueled the early usage of Twitter! Interesting… I read something recently that there was a youth uprising overseas somewhere, I think Eastern Europe or maybe Asia, and the kids were using Twitter on their mobiles to suddenly gather and outmaneuver the cops. It got to the point where the government cut off access to Twitter, in fact. Very powerful stuff.

    I agree that it’s a great way to promote what you’re doing RSS-style, like a bulletin board essentially. The way your company is using it is a really great approach. My company auto-tweets all of our blog posts and press releases, and we need to do even more for our clients in that regard. It’s a great way to ping a lot of people at once and say, “Hey, I’m (still) here and I have something interesting you might want to check out.”

    I’m curious what the next big thing will be. Tumblr? Something else? It seems like everyone is stuck on Facebook and Twitter right now for an unusually long time. As always, I’m wondering where the pioneers are headed.

    By the way, thanks for the “drunken notepad” idea… it will come in handy. 🙂

  7. castercomm says:

    By the way, Alex and Trishy, “castercomm” is me (Joe).

  8. castercomm says:

    Some interesting comments on this post from my Facebook:

    “That is great! I know a company that literally watches twitter all day, but their facebook is totally neglected. It’s all a rich tapestry, people.”

    “Have you tried Tweetdeck? It allows you to see constant status updates from both your Twitter and Facebook accounts. It makes things a little more streamlined.” (I will be investigating this.)

    “The problem with Twitter is that its format demands that you constantly post material. Otherwise, you are just a speck floating in a sea of information. Hence the deluge of meaningless chatter. It’s like everyone’s Id simultaneously shouting for attention.”

    “I’m one of those who signed on and then abandoned twitter after a week or so. I found it too irritating and time consuming with no reward. it wasn’t communication. it was shouting into the wind for your own amusement.”

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