Why people are leaving Twitter

According to Nielsen last month, a full 60% of users who sign up to use Twitter fail to return the following month. And in the 12 months  before the “Oprah effect,”  retention rates were even lower: only 30% returned the next month.

I have a theory as to why that might be and it’s pretty simple.

Example #1


It’s probably a given that most new users have heard about Twitter and want to try it out. But this homepage doesn’t do much to explain it. Does it? By the way, the home page? That’s pretty much the same one they have used from the get-go. Of course you may click on the watch a video link for a how-to, but me thinks most will just go ahead and sign up and jump right in. In which case you  get the following screen after you have registered.


Is this intuitive?  Don’t you think it’s time to at least re-do the UI/Homepage?

12 thoughts on “Why people are leaving Twitter

  1. Well said, Marc! Furthermore, the plain old “twitter stream” can appear to be a random series of annoying and pointless comments from random and annoying people… unless you know what you’re doing. Frankly, I didn’t get much value out of Twitter beyond pure entertainment until I discovered nifty conversation-management tools like Tweetdeck and more recently, Nambu… and now that I have started using Nambu I am starting to wonder why do we need Twitter at all? Why arent Twitter and Nambu actually THE SAME THING??? (stepping down from soapbox now)

  2. Agree Marta and I suspect no one who first jumps in, is realy sure what they are supposed to do “with it”… Checking out Nambu as we speak..

  3. Could it also be that people don’t want to come back to having more spam then myspace produced? The next twitter will be more like what facebook did to myspace

  4. People have a huge fear of feeling stupid. Navigating your way through something so riddled with seemingly exclusionary code words and fragmented conversation threads can have a strong, “I am going to feel stupid” effect for first-timers. That said, the doubting thomases from our office have gotten hooked, though in their own way, tweeting a couple of times a day and following a manageable number of people.

    I still like it and use it, but I have lately been culling my follow list in an effort to boost value of experience.

    Great call for improvement, though I suspect they have a pretty long list as it is.

  5. I’ve thought this for quite some time; they’re not doing themselves any favors with these designs. It’s almost as if it’s being done intentionally to make you work for it, or to keep up some sort of lo-tech street cred. Note that Google’s homepage is equally simplistic and always has been. The difference there is that most people who visit Google have at least one of their products/services clearly in mind (search) when they go there. Twitter is not something the uninitiated user is going to “get” without either someone to help them or a considerable amount of effort.

  6. Check out some of Twitter’s developers. Look at their tweets. In some cases, nine out of ten times, they tweet what they’re doing.

    Your argument holds weight–but not necessarily with those who hold the weights.

  7. I agree with all of the comments. In addition, Twitter – the company and its community – has done a poor job communicating what it’s really about. “Microblogging” and “What are you doing right now?” were a big turn off for the longest time for me. And then I would hear sincere, qualified advocates stumble over their words trying to explain why outsiders should care. I am most impressed with their real-time search capabilities and hope they keep up with the tools race to help manage the mass of messages.

  8. @Robert, what we really need to see is how scalable they can be. because right now they are really struggling with it. I would suspect though that the biggest struggle will be whether to keep it or sell it..

  9. I think the UI could be part of the reason, but the larger reason is that it takes more than a month for people to really get it.

    New Twitterers have to build up a group of followers (minimum of 100), get used to sharing thoughts, ideas and links (minimum of 50-75 tweets) and discover the value of Twitter search.

    Is Twitter doing anything to reach out to people who have not Twittered recently? They could help by reminding people via an email blast to check it out, suggest people to follow and provide tips for getting value. But that’s just me wearing my community manager hat…


  10. As a relatively new “Tweeter” (is that a word) I can say that Twitter can make a person feel stupid. When you are a beginner, who knows what “DM me” means?

    I still find it impossible to think in 140 characters, and have a difficult time spelling words incorrectly on purpose.

    I will be checking out some of these tools you speak of. I’m not giving up just yet. I’m a hip old lady and I’ll get it sooner or later (If I don’t expire first)

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