UK retention rates for Twitter increase despite US reporting dip in numbers

Twitter retention rates in the UK are increasing as users become more familiar with the microblogging site.

Figures from Nielsen Online revealed 42% of the site’s users in February returned in March 2009, increasing from 40% retention in February and 26% in January.

Alex Burmaster, communications director for the UK and EMEA at Nielsen Online, said, “As with the other networks, people are becoming more familiar with the service and familiarity breeds engagement.”

It follows reports in the US, which found 60% of visitors dropped off from the site after a month. And despite UK figures displaying a similar pattern, audience retention for the website is rising.

“Typically when a site explodes into public consciousness you get a lot of people checking it out to see what all the fuss is about, but they never actually use it,” said Burmaster.

According to the research, other social media sites that have seen similar bursts in users have higher retention rates; Facebook had a retention rate of 84% in March 2009, Bebo 63% and MySpace 59%. All four sites have seen increased retention over the past three months.

The US research into Twitter came under scrutiny as the figures only represent access to the site from the web and didn’t include access from applications, such as TweetDeck, which critics argued should have a higher retention rate.

Updated data from the US which monitored 30 of the key sites and applications linked to Twitter showed traffic to these sites followed the same trend, with 60% of users failing to return the following month.

Nielsen Online can’t pull the same data for application traffic here in the UK but Burmaster said, “This could be the case here. We saw near identical rates for web use here so it’s likely that the level of use on applications would also be similar.

“The jury is still out as to whether it’s a viable ad medium,” he added.

Poll results
A poll on last week asked readers if they thought Twitter would suffer from low retention rates. It revealed a mixed opinion as 53% said it would and 47% disagreed.
Low retention is expected for sites such as Twitter, which saw a dramatic increase in unique users, from 121,451 unique users in October 2008 to over 2.3m in March 2009.

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