A study by Nielsen Online states that more than 60 percent of new Twitter users give up on the service a month after signing up. This doesn’t surprise me. The more I use Twitter, the more I realize it isn’t for everyone. Why? Because most people really don’t care what you’re doing. And you don’t care what they’re doing, either.
Twitter has gotten oodles of media attention lately, and I’m guessing that many users are signing up just to see what the ruckus is about. If Oprah and Ashton Kutcher use Twitter, it must be worth checking out, right? But once the newbies spend a few days telling the world what they’re doing in 140-character bursts — or reading mind-numbing “I’m-at-the-market” updates from friends and family — the novelty wears off in a hurry.
I signed up a few weeks ago, and so far my reactions are mixed. I’ve been following an eclectic mix of people and publications, including colleagues, friends, magazines, and even a few celebrities. I’ve discovered that Twitter is a good way to learn about new things, such as interesting articles and potential story topics. On the down side, I’m getting links to more articles than I could ever read. It’s another case of information overload. (Could it be that I just don’t get it? My colleague Robert Strohmeyer thinks so.)
Celebrity tweets? I’ve learned the movie director Kevin Smith had sex with his wife last weekend, that Kim Kardashian (why is she famous again?) has launched a lookalike contest, and that Jack Dorsey, the guy who invented Twitter, travels a lot. I’m really jealous about that last one.
But after browsing these hourly updates from the rich and famous, I’ve found that I really don’t care what they’re doing. Even if I enjoy their work (e.g. Kevin Smith), I neither want nor need to know the minutiae of their daily lives.
Friends? A similar story. One female friend of mine posted a series of updates about her menstrual cycles. “Aunt Flow has arrived,” one read. The others were more graphic.
If there’s such a thing as sharing too much information, that was it.
Yes, I know that all I have to do is remove the annoying, narcissistic, and dull from the list of people I follow. And I’ve done a little of that.
I’m not trying to trash Twitter, which I think is valuable social networking tool for personal and professional use. But I get why Twitter’s retention rate is below 40 percent, while Facebook and MySpace have retention rates near 70 percent, according to Nielsen.