Twitter Co-Founder Dorsey Talks Retention and Stability
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has a lot to be happy about. Every time he hears a bird he thinks about his success. It seems that he can’t turn around anywhere anymore without hearing something about Twitter and how it is poised to take over the world or at least allows Ashton Kutcher to feel like he has a lot of pals. Interestingly enough, despite the immense success there appears to be little complacency at Twitter but rather a genuine interest in seeing the service do the basics well.
Dorsey recognizes that the retention factor is one that is in need of attention. He talked to Mark Milian of the LA Times last week while in Washington to visit the White House. Rather than talk about the glitz of the nation’s capital he talked about the sign up process for Twitter.
“Our sign-up process is still fairly weak,” Dorsey said. “It’s not the best way to suggest people to new users because they’re . . . not relevant to everyone. We just choose a random 20 selections from a pool of picks by Twitter staff, he said.
The folks at Twitter may be realizing that there could be limitations to who actually can understand and thus use the service effectively. They are looking for the best way to get new users of the service engaged right out of the gate. If it doesn’t happen early there appears to be a very significant drop rate after a month (60%) according to a report from Nielsen in April.
“It’s a hard problem to solve,” Dorsey said. “And the company is . .
. . . just on the edge of doing something about it. But I think it happens through search, basically.”
Twitter recently redesigned its home page to incorporate search, giving users a window into others who might have the same interests.
What was more interesting in the musings of Dorsey was the concern about the stability of the service. Apparently hockey stick shaped growth charts can make the tech folks tremble a little. The specter of the Fail Whale weighs heavy on the folks at Twitter.
“We’re still building the utility aspect,” Dorsey said. “So we’re still doing a lot of stability work. Along those lines, we want to sustain more people, so we need to work on the product to add features to promote more usage. And in order to sustain that whole thing, we need revenue at some point.”
Oh that’s right, the whole revenue issue. With all of the competition between Twitter and Facebook it’s interesting because Facebook is trying to be more “Twitteresque” in its service. Meanwhile Facebook is actually generating some revenue these days. Dorsey recognizes how the lines are blurring ever so slightly.
“We’re definitely flattered because it is moving more into our direction,” Dorsey said of Facebook’s recent redesign, which emphasizes status updates. He said the changes seem to do a good job of simplifying Facebook.
The folks at Twitter seem to feel that the real importance of Twitter is actually something that is mentioned when it comes to comparisons with Google: search.
“The other big thing is search,” Dorsey said. On Twitter, “people are not only following people, but they’re following topics. They’re following locations. They’re following keywords and hashtags and conversations.”
“You can’t do that right now on Facebook,” he continued. “They may change the service again. They may get more and more close to what we’re doing.”
Seems to be a lot on Mr. Dorsey’s mind these days and it appears as if 140 characters aren’t going to cover it for the moment.