Research firm Nielson Online, which measures Internet traffic, found that a 60 percent majority of users likely spend just a month on micro-blogging site Twitter before quitting.
"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," David Martin, Nielsen Online's vice president of primary research, said in a Nielson blog post. "For most of the past 12 months, pre-Oprah, Twitter has languished below 30 percent retention."
San Francisco-based micro-blogging site Twitter was created as a site for social networking, in which members are allowed to create 140-character messages, known as "tweets," to share online with friends and celebrities.
The site experienced a sharp spike in popularity after celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Oprah Winfrey publicly announced their active Twitter memberships and invited fans to follow their celebrity Twitter feeds.
Twitter has thus far attracted millions of users who share breaking news and personal messages with other "tweeters."
Nielson said in its report that 13.9 million users joined Twitter in March, representing more than a 100 percent increase of unique visitors from March of 2008.
Tweeters followed President Barack Obama on Twitter during the 2008 presidential campaign as well as other prominent celebrities, including basketball player Shaquille O'Neal and singers Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, all of whom have their own Twitter following.
While Twitter, as a private company, does not disclose the number of its users, its Web site had more than 7 million unique visitors in February this year compared to 475,000 in February a year ago, according to Nielson Online.
However, Martin said that Twitter's 40 percent retention rate would limit the site's overall growth to about 10 percent. More established social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace enjoyed retention rates double that when they were going through explosive growth phases as emerging networks, and now both currently retain about 70 percent of the members who join.
"To be clear, a high retention rate doesn't guarantee a massive audience, but it is a prerequisite.... There aren't enough new users making up for defecting ones after a certain point," Martin said."Twitter has enjoyed a nice ride over the last few months, but it will not be able to sustain its meteoric rise without establishing a higher level of user loyalty. Frankly, if Oprah can't accomplish that, I'm not sure who can."
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