AdAge: Twitter ‘Quitters’ Make Service’s Reach Limited

AdAge this week takes a look at Twitter‘s big, buzz-worthy numbers and spike and traffic, due in part to Oprah’s and Ashton’s inane Twitter campaigns. The trade publication suggests that Twitter’s reach will remain limited, because so many of these new Twitter signees have logged on because of the hype and then … well, nothing.

… the breathless [traffic] reports have not accounted for what people do after they sign up for a Twitter account. Creating a Twitter account doesn’t equal becoming an uber-user, or even a casual user, of the micro-blogging site. Nielsen Online data released today suggest more than 60% of people who sign up for Twitter abandon the service.

“Twitter Quitters” are threatening Twitter’s very survival! (You can see Nielsen’s post on the matter here.)

Of course, there’s no doubt that folks are signing on to Twitter just to see what all this buzz is about, then leaving the quirky service because they don’t get it, don’t have the time to work with it, don’t sit on their computers or cell phones all day or (possibly?) are put off by its increasingly precious nomenclature (Tweets, tweeps, twibes? Srlsy?).

There’s also the social media arms race effect, in which people, groups and companies sign on to the service just to say they’re on it. Even SEC coaches feel as if they have to tweet, even if they don’t know what it is!

Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin doesn’t know if Twittering is a recruiting advantage, but he’s not taking any chances.

Kiffin opened a Twitter account recently after learning Georgia Coach Mark Richt had one.

“To me, it’s more one of those things that you don’t want anyone doing anything that you’re not,” Kiffin said. “Reading that Coach Richt had started that and had one, we just wanted to make sure that there wasn’t anything that could possibly be a benefit that we weren’t doing.”

(What? No comment from Houston Nutt, the undisputed king of collegiate text messaging? Sigh. Moving on …)

So, yes, AdAge’s report makes absolute sense. Is this a bad thing for Twitter? Not necessarily. AdAge says that if Twitter can get users to stick, then it will remain a niche service. As the employee of a niche publisher, I know that niche audiences, no matter how small, can be prized by advertisers and content providers alike. Niche isn’t bad. But it might not be what Twitter’s creators and investors are aiming for.

Meanwhile, I want to know this, Twittersphere: As we’ve seen, Twitter has legitimate uses for work, nonprofits, marketing, customer service, internal communications, emergency communications and more. But are Twitter noobs — the disciples of Oprah and Ashton — truly ruining Twitter for its power users? Are too many folks crashing the party?

Let me know in comments.

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4 Responses

  1. I don’t trust any Twitter related metrics because I don’t believe anyone can effectively the users who are active but never sign in because they are using third party software and there is certainly no effective metric for the user who relies on sms updates from a couple favorites and never interact directly with Twitter.

    The Twitter model is different from any other. Arkansas Business or CNN or Facebook or any of the numerous blogs sell either eyeballs, clicks resulting from the viewing of ads, or actions such as a percentage commission on sales coming from viewers of a site.

    Twitter isn’t a web site with views to sell. It is more like the phone company or the cable company or an ISP where the connection is the value.

    I still believe Twitter’s model is going to be pay-per-follower system and possibly a pay system for receiving sms messages. CNN, Oprah, Brittany, Ashton who are running above a million will pay a significant amount, with descending bands as we approach few followers where it becomes free.

    Cell carriers will likely be asked to pay a connection fee to give their users access to sms messages.

    The next innovation will be the ability to prune followers.

    The beauty of the Oprah/Ashton run up is other than the appearance of the fail whale, few have noticed, unlike what happened AOL killed the internet with the appearance of their annoyingly stupid users across the web because it is easier to not have them inflicted upon you in Twitter. Don’t follow them is an easy way to avoid them.

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