Is Twitter Losing Momentum?

Discussion
Feb 10, 2010
Tom Ryan

By Tom Ryan

According to a recent study from RJ Metrics, Twitter’s growth in
new accounts slowed from 7.8 million per month last summer to around 6.2 million
currently. The report also found that only 17 percent of Twitter users updated
their accounts in December, an all-time low.

Of the 75 million Twitter users
identified at the close of 2009, roughly 25 percent of accounts had no followers
and about 40 percent never made a single tweet. Four-fifths of the user base
have tweeted less than ten times, and just 17 percent of Twitter users sent
a message in the month of December. Also, the percentage of accounts sending
out tweets has steadily declined over the past six months.

On RJ Metric’s blog,
Roger Moore, the company’s CEO, stressed that the results weren’t as bad as
they seem. Non-tweeters appear to be new users who signed up after 2008, and
early adopters are less likely to use it frequently. On the plus side, the
6.2 million sign-ups per month – or two to three per second – shows that “Twitter
is still growing like a rocketship.” Also, Mr. Moore said his firm’s analysis
reveals “tremendous loyalty and engagement” from those Twitter users who stay
on the system after their first week as members. “In fact, those users who stay
become more active over time, so much so that they make up for the missing
activity from those users who leave,” wrote Mr. Moore.

In all, with 75 million
total accounts, an active user-base of around 20 percent still leaves around
15 million highly active tweeters, he noted.

Writing in The Sydney Morning
Herald
, Gordon Farrar said the growth
in Twitter may be peaking but he said Twitter users will eventually dwindle
down to those motivated to continually deliver content.

“To be surprised that
very few people tweet and that most have few followers is the same as being
surprised that most people don’t have their own radio show or newspaper column,”
wrote Mr. Farrar. “Once the short-term trend-followers
and the rubber-neckers disappear, once the loudmouth online hawkers see their
message is being ignored and drift to the next money-spinning opportunity,
Twitter will settle into a useful everyday sifter and disseminator of online
information. It will become the filter of choice of those who want to be fed
media, technology, business and political news.”

But Todd Wasserman, writing for Brandweek,
said that much like Second Life, Twitter “has become a wasteland for brands.”
While it may work for celebrities, the millions of tweets sent out by many
major brands have resulted in scant followers. He also quoted marketing people
that claimed Facebook had copied most of Twitter’s best features.

“I’m not a big fan of Twitter,” Joel Ewanick, group vp of marketing for Hyundai,
told Brandweek. “[Twitter has] become the butt of a joke. You start
seeing in popular culture people making fun of Twitter.”

Discussion Questions:
What social media vehicle do you think is strongest from a B2C standpoint and
why? Is Twitter an effective vehicle for brands and retailers to reach consumers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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18 Comments on "Is Twitter Losing Momentum?"


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Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Mr. Farrar hit it on the head. Just like blogging, article writing (and…RetailWire!), after the initial commitment to contribute wanes, some formerly zealous participants move on to other things while others stay. Everyone on Twitter has the option to un-follow people, companies and brands that they no longer find relevant, or those who wear out their welcome by turning Twitter into a rambling narrative or commercial; thus defeating the purpose of the thing. The un-following process is fairly discrete as well so no hard feelings.

Twitter has been a terrific loop-closing platform for newmarketbuilders and I continue to make new contacts, many of them international, and to find new resources that have been invaluable to my business. I’ve also been able to BE a resource to others I would have otherwise never met.

Is it always necessary to plot the demise of a platform the minute it peaks? If it is meant to die, it will.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 2 months ago

It could be that some of the ‘professionals’ are moving away from Twitter but I don’t think we have seen the mainstream ‘Facebook’ and ‘MySpace’ people get into Twitter yet. I think there will be another huge wave of Twitter users as I honestly see it as effective tool for retailers and business to connect with their customers.

Where else do we go from here? Super micro blogging where you have to decode a message out of 4 letters? Coupons permanently tattooed to your forehead? Carrier pigeon with a rocket pack?

Mel Kleiman
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

I have no idea what the next major platform will be to connect with the consumer, but it will not be Twitter. Simple fact: Too much chaff to get through to find the wheat.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
11 years 2 months ago
I don’t think that there is any question that the growth of Twitter is slowing. But there is a huge difference between slowing growth (only 6 mil+ new users in a month) and declaring a platform dead. Twitter continue to provide great content in real time, and a way to build relationships between people who share common interests. While it might be true that brands that are sending Tweets are finding fewer followers, this is not the fault of Twitter. Think about it. Brands are not people. Brands do not have thoughts and ideas. Brands are not all that interesting. On the other hand, the brands that get it (Zappos, Vitamin Water, etc.), and instead of having the brands send Tweets they have people behind the brands converse, find that they experience huge followings. Social Networking is about building relationships, and it is difficult to have a meaningful relationship with a bottle of shampoo. I would not count Twitter out at 75 million users. It might morph into a different service, it might become part… Read more »
Dave Wendland
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

The real question is has Twitter “tweated” too many times and do consumers feel “twicked?” I believe that the 75 million+ Twitter followers have become somewhat overwhelmed by the noise that is interfering with the message delivered through this medium. That said, it has not yet morphed into what it will eventually become.

Twitter (and other social media formats) has not hit their stride. I’m not ready to rule it out or suggest it is dying on the vine; instead, I can envision an evolution led by its followers that will define its future. Imagine if Twitter polled its users and asked them what they would prefer in brand messaging and then segregated the list by demographic or other criteria. Would this then become a useful and targeted tool? I believe it could…and it will. My vote is to keep following it!

Tom McGoldrick
Guest
Tom McGoldrick
11 years 2 months ago

Our data supports at least the slowing of Twitter growth.

In our January omnibus we see an interesting trend in which sites are seeing the most use. Morpace asked our respondents in September ’09 and again in January ’10 which social media sites they use. Most sites are simply maintaining their share; for example twitter 13% to 12%, MySpace 22% and 22%, and LinkedIn 10% to 8%. However Facebook went from 50% to 60% of respondents indicating that they are currently using it.

Since the power of a social media site lies to a great extent in its ability to connect people, I wonder if we are moving towards a single dominant site with maybe some small niche sites for specific audiences.

Lori Smith
Guest
Lori Smith
11 years 2 months ago
I do not have a huge following on Twitter and I do not follow a large number of people (brands, companies, etc.). However, I have found that those individuals that I do follow provide me with excellent links to articles and other sites that I find useful professionally and personally. In addition, as a journalist, Twitter has introduced me to sources that I may never have found on my own. I don’t know the importance or usefulness of evaluating a social media tool (or any other marketing tool) strictly in terms of the number of users or its “momentum.” I’d rather be following/follow 50 worthwhile resources than 10,000 next-big-thing people, who probably never tweet or read my tweets. It’s the old “quality versus quantity” argument. Also, I think Twitter can be useful for independent retailers if they use it wisely and with realistic expectations. It’s for building a relationship with customers and potential customers–not the world. It’s not time consuming and if a retailer has the right followers and tweets the right messages, it can… Read more »
Richard Glomb
Guest
Richard Glomb
11 years 2 months ago

The effort for a consumer to create content via media will fall off from fad to fad, while the service provided from a brand to consumer for content/info is only to sign up and receive it from brands they are loyal to.

In the marketing and brand delivery service, the subtle mode of brand placement in fad events will run next to the direct subscription service.

Gaining contacts from fad events will run its course as a pull medium. Brands need to get these contacts rolled over to constant contact for brand info available to the consumer.

Watch new mobile media services grow as an insert to the media with a sequence of Connect, Capture, Communicate to contacts.

Mark Burr
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Just as with Ashton Kutcher, the novelty has worn off. Just look at the numbers of members never issuing a single ‘tweet’. That says it all. Just as with any toy, the shine eventually dulls a bit. In its current form, it was not–and is not–an effective method of connection with customers. Places for a presence will be effective. Twitter is likely not the right one.

Janet Dorenkott
Guest
Janet Dorenkott
11 years 2 months ago

Twitter has not evolved the way they could have. As a result, I believe that it is a good venue for celebs trying to stay in touch with fans, but that’s about it.

Facebook has exceeded what Twitter offers to the social media for personal use. LinkedIn has exceeded what each of them offer in terms of social media targeting professional messaging and events. I think Twitter will continue to see a decline in usage.

Rick Moss
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Efficient use of Twitter for business is a bit clumsy because the site itself is very basic, but for those who aren’t aware, there are a number of excellent (mostly free) 3rd party desktop Twitter applications that allow you to filter the people/companies you’re following and do some sophisticated organizing rather easily. For PC, check out TweetDeck or Digsby; for Mac, Tweetie is pretty awesome.

With these apps, you can collect all of your competitors’ tweets in one column; news sources in another; friends/colleagues in another, etc. The whole experience begins to make a whole lot more sense.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
11 years 2 months ago

For independent retailers, the important point is to understand the importance to their customer base of various social media. Some customer bases are more attuned to Facebook. Some are more attuned to Twitter. A smart social media program recognizes the relevance of the various sites to their customers, and seeks to build from there.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Perhaps I’m being presumptuous, but as one of the 6+ billion non-users in the world, I say “THANK GOD!” Few things in this tech-age (or the 6000 years of recorded human history before it, for that matter) have seemed as pointless and irritating as Twitter: everything about it, from the name on down, seemed calculated to annoy. Mr. Kutcher, OTOH, I’ve learned to live with.

David Biernbaum
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

I am a big fan of the Twitter format and I wish that more people were using it. http://twitter.com/davidbiernbaum

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 2 months ago

We’re riding with Facebook primarily because it offers the best platform to support our online retailing. LinkedIn, on the other hand, works best for our professional services. We’ve worked with Twitter in both cases, but it takes significantly longer to develop anything useful. There are many books out there that address retailing with digital media, but my favorite is “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s helped me, and it might help you. I read it in a little over an hour.

Bill Hanifin
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Has anyone heard of the Pareto rule? I’m not surprised that those tweeting on a regular basis are becoming a more concentrated group.

Twitter is exactly what you choose to make of it. If you blast scammy/spammy promotions, it will lose significance. If you seek to connect with people relevant to your business or hobbies and manage those lists, you can tap into a fantastic set of resources.

Twitter is one more tool in the box and until Facebook opens up more, it will not reach its potential as a business tool.

When Mr. Ewanick of Hyundai states that “Twitter has become the butt of a joke” I have to accept that. That does not diminish its value for me at this point in time.

Rick Boretsky
Guest
Rick Boretsky
11 years 2 months ago

In my experience, Mr Farrar’s comments are dead on. It’s a great place to share information and build relationships. I don’t care about the platform, whether it’s Twitter today or Google Buzz tomorrow–just the concept is significant and one that will continue. For businesses and businesspeople, everyone is a brand on Twitter (just as everyone is their own brand here on RetailWire).

I have seen companies and individuals come and go on Twitter. It is difficult to use these tools to be consistent and really build your brand, but I am glad to see this process weed out those who lose interest quickly. We are left with fewer tweets and more meaningful content. Although this will still continue to go in waves for a long time to come.

Vickie Yound
Guest
Vickie Yound
11 years 2 months ago
I fully admit my twitter addiction and on a personal basis absolutely love the medium. The businesses I find most beneficial for me to follow are those that provide me actionable and “need to know now” info such as @DukePowerStorm (they provide updates on power outages and expected repair time), news organizations, my credit union, etc. I find local businesses are more successful at using the platform because they are real people behind the brand who converse with followers and respond to questions/comments in “people speak.” Those companies that just send out “look at me” tweets are dropped very quickly from my follow list. I don’t think Twitter is dead but like most platforms, you’ll find people who “get it” and those that think it’s a bunch of bull. Just like gmail or yahoo … people have their preferences. The key for companies to be successful is to figure out the differences and adapt their strategies to each platform. There is no one-size fits all. Twitter might not be the right platform for lots of… Read more »
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