Twitter's lack of loyalty--an Achilles' heel?

Twitter may be hip but it lacks the user loyalty of other large social networking sites. How can the service become stickier?

Some interesting data from Nielsen suggests that Twitter, despite the hype and meteoric growth, appears to have a user loyalty problem, an issue not suffered by Facebook or MySpace, the two behemoths of social networking.

Considering the viral nature of Twitter, I was a bit surprised to see that users weren't more loyal. On the other hand, sites like Facebook and MySpace offer a lot more functions that facilitate communication on many levels, not just through messaging.

Currently, more than 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return the following month, or in other words, Twitter's audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month's users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent. For most of the past 12 months, pre-Oprah, Twitter has languished below 30 percent retention.

Is this Twitter's Achilles' heel, where there aren't enough reasons to come back to the service, or, is audience retention naturally lower because Twitter only offers one thing to do in comparison to the other services?

The chart below shows that MySpace and Facebook both had higher loyalty levels at the same reach.

Twitter lacks loyalty
Twitter lacks loyalty Nielsen Wire

I think it's an easy argument in Twitter's favor that it has significant reach with significantly fewer features than the comparative sites. Of course, loyalty matters a great deal if and when the company ever decides to monetize the user base.

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