Nielsen Online is standing behind the controversial analysis of the Twitter community it released last week, which found that for all the hype surrounding the microblogging phenom, most people who create an account end up abandoning the site within a month.
Nielsen’s report was widely picked in the blogosphere and other online media outlets, drawing a flurry of criticism from the Twitterarti who were quick to point out that simply looking at activity on the site Twitter.com is an inaccurate measure of the community, given the myriad apps and off-site ways to access Twitter that have spring up.
A reader comment in response to the original report on InternetNews.com about the Nielsen study was typical:
“I guess Nielsen didn’t take into consideration that people do not need to visit the website anymore once they installed applications like DestroyTwitter or Tweetdeck or Seesmic,” reader B. Moore wrote. “So IMHO there [sic] stats are wrong and they need to rethink how they measure twitter.”
Nielsen did just that.
“We wanted specifically address the criticisms from the Twitter community that perhaps we sold them a little bit short by not including applications or adjacent Web sites that feed into the Twitter applications,” Nielsen Online Vice President David Martin said in a video describing his analysis.
“The results didn’t really change,” Martin said. “We still maintain that the majority of people who sign up for Twitter won’t be around in a month.”
Martin was clear to point out that he did not view his findings as an indictment of the Twitter phenomenon. Noting that the feedback to the study definitely exceeded all our expectations,” he took the response as a testament to the fierce loyalty many people feel about the value of real-time status updates and communicating through messages of 140 characters or fewer.
“There is no question that this finding would not have spread as quickly as it did without the engaged and vocal user base that has adopted Twitter as a way of life,” he said.
He went on to credit Twitter for its “power and influence to drive media talking points,” but with about 60 percent of Twitter users abandoning the community after a month — regardless of how they access it — Twitter it seems is still propelled by a passionate minority.
But the founders might be OK with that. The company has said it is planning to roll out a commercial product later this year, but that it continues to focus on new features and improvements to the free service, which presumably will improve its retention rate.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.