Heading into the tech company's highly anticipated initial public offering, a problem with users leaving Twitter because they find it too confusing or unnecessary isn't something the company wants to hear about.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll tried to find the rate at which people are signing up and quitting Twitter, and the results could be a turn-off for potential investors:
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 36 percent of 1,067 people who have joined Twitter say they do not use it, and 7 percent say they have shut their account. The online survey, conducted October 11 to 18, has a credibility interval, a measure of its accuracy, of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Emphasis added. That's 43 percent of those surveyed saying they no longer use Twitter at all. Closing your account instead of leaving it on the shelf to collect dust, with the possibility of a potential return, is just cold. A comparative look at Facebook users with a higher survey pool found only seven percent of users left, and five percent shut their account completely.
Quitting Facebook has been trendy for years now. And yes, the site's growth rounded out to around 10 percent year-over-year after the service reached the half-a-billion user plateau. But it's been able to survive by providing a service to users: the modern phonebook for relatives and old acquaintances. (At least, the ones who are still on Facebook.)
But nothing much has been made about Twitter users bailing on the service. Some threaten to make the plunge after certain unpopular redesigns, but they never do. The tech company said it has 232 million active users in its IPO released last week. But heading into the road tour pitch to investors, questions will be raised about the company's size and sustainability. We've looked before at how Twitter isn't yet too big to fail: that the service could still evaporate if fortune take the wrong left turn at Albuquerque.
The number one reason survey participants gave for quitting Twitter was confusion about the service's unique conversation etiquette: at-replies and retweets, RTs and MTs, and let's not even mention hashtags. Any regular Twitter user tasked with explaining the service to a newcomer knows how difficult this can be. (Twitter acknowledged new users find it confusing in its IPO.)
Perhaps Twitter's biggest obstacle is it hasn't established that indispensable reason to stay signed up the way Facebook has. Maybe this quote, from a 2011 story by The New York Times' Jenna Wortham about quitting Facebook better applies to quitting the blue bird: "People always raise an eyebrow. But my life has gone on just fine without it."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.