Twitter quitters to limit site's growth - Nielsen

Most Twitter users are giving up within a month of signing up, according to ratings firm Nielsen Online.

Twitter's unique audience grew over 100% in March alone, with influential celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey among them. Yet among US users the retention rate is just 40%, David Martin, Nielsen Online's VP of primary research, said in a blog post.

Before Winfrey signed onto the site, the retention rate was 30%, he said.

Nielsen estimates that a 40% retention rate limits a site's growth to around 10%. “To be clear, a high retention rate doesn’t guarantee a massive audience, but it is a prerequisite,” Martin said.

By comparison, rival social networking sites Facebook and MySpace currently have retention levels of nearly 70%. And unlike Twitter, whose retention rates have merely fluctuated, these sites' retention rates improved when they went through their respective major growth phases.

“Twitter has enjoyed a nice ride over the last few months, but it will not be able to sustain its meteoric rise without establishing a higher level of user loyalty,” Martin said. “Frankly, if Oprah can’t accomplish that, I’m not sure who can.”