Over the last few months, Twitter executives have talked about improving retention rates but until now haven’t done anything obvious about it. Two new Twitter initiatives seem to suggest that Twitter believes that part of the solution is doing a better job of explaining to newcomers how to use its service.
For businesses, Twitter is launching Twitter 101—a site designed to share “interesting findings, best practices, steps for getting started, and case studies,” according to the announcement on the Twitter blog. Twitter will also launch a new home page next week that will feature specific information about how Twitter works geared for new users, according to a report by AllThingsD (It also puts a search box on the Twitter home page, part of Twitter’s continued efforts to play up the prominence of its search function).
In an interview with AllThingsD, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone says, We need to do a better job of explaining ourselves to people who hear about us and then have no idea what do to. The problem is well-documented: Twitter continues to add new users at a fast clip, but most of them don’t come back after trying it out and only a small percentage of Twitter users account for most of the Tweets that are sent.
Will it work? We’ll have to wait to see what the new home page looks like. But the Twitter 101 page does a good job of providing basic information (like what’s a #? or an RT?) while at the same time not being condescending. It’s worth noting that another feature that Twitter added earlier this year to get new users more engaged—a list of recommended accounts to follow—led to some controversy over how exactly it was being generated.
(An aside: In other Twitter news today, if you’re worried about why your follower counts have fallen, Twitter says it is adjusting the follower accounts of many users to correct for spam accounts and data inconsistencies).
By Joseph Tartakoff