by C.G. Lynch

Twitter Quitters: Power Tweeters May Be to Blame

May 06, 2009 3 mins
Enterprise Applications

You might have heard about Nielsen’s recent research revealing that 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return to the service after a month, but there hasn’t been much of a “why” offered, so I’ll tell you: Twitter’s hardcore fans have ironically driven newbies away. Their inside baseball tweets coded in nonsense, over-following and over-updating have created an unattractive barrier to entry for Joe Web Users who are curious about how the service might fit into their daily lives.

The rise of Twitter’s user-base has differed from Facebook, which grew upon a mainstream audience of college and high school kids looking to post photos and share the details of a Saturday night. While they were tech-savvy in the sense that they grew up with the Web, they weren’t “techy.” To them, the Web and technology just exists — and nothing more. 

Twitter has traveled a different road with its user base. Tech nerds and social media evangelists populated the service initially, followed by traditional media and public relations folks who wanted to track them. Soon, businesses and some over-aggressive marketers hopped in on the fun, before leading to famed celebrity accounts.

The presence of the latter group — Oprah, John Mayer, Shaq, to name a few — convinced many that Twitter now harbors a mainstream audience, but the Nielsen finding certainly refutes that idea.

If you’re a new Twitter user with no technology background, you might find Twitter to be pretty darn intimidating, if not annoying. Some things that might make them want to chuck the account and revert to their Facebook status messages?

To name a few:

  1. Tweets with hashtags (#) and stupid-looking acronyms.
  2. Inside jokes that aren’t funny. 
  3. People who decide they’re a news service and show you every link they read on CNN. 
  4. The spammy “Thanks for following me” direct message. 

We have seen other online services suffer similar problems. Digg, for instance, started out as a service predicated on the idea of democratically voting up the best news stories on the Web. The site’s early power users, however, pretty much dominated the service, muscling their content of choice onto the front page. 

Twitter’s best chance at building a sustainable business model rests upon incorporating a wider audience, which would allow a variety of businesses to reach them either through a company Twitter account or search-driven advertising. If Twitter’s hardcore, constituent audience cares about the service’s success, they might consider toning down the insular feel of their tweets.