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"Twitter is a fad." So why does your business need to be there?

Is Twitter a bad idea for your business? Isn’t it just a waste of time? And now that Oprah’s doing it, has Twitter “jumped the shark?” After all, BusinessWeek says Twitter is a fad.. And MediaWeek reports Twitter’s audience has no return policy.

“Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

Alright. It “ain’t.”

First, let’s look into those numbers everyone’s throwing around. Twitter has a retention rate of 40%. But 40% of what? Compete says Twitter gained 6 million new unique visitors in the last month, to raise its total from 8 million to 14 million:

As I read it, 40% of 14 million is 5.6 million people. New people. And that’s up from 30% retention of the preceding month’s 8 million visitors. Put another way, it looks like Twitter increased active users from 2.4 million people (30% of 8 million) to 5.6 million people in one month. Does that look like a service in free fall to you?

More important, the folks claiming Twitter is a fad miss its true value. They assume the quantity of visitors – which, as we’ve just seen, Twitter seems to be gaining – equals quality visitors. And that’s just not the case.

Like any network, Twitter won’t gain “mass appeal” until each new member finds the right set of connections for himself. But, the service attracts a valuable audience for your business today. Journalists and bloggers. Influencers and thought leaders. The types of people you want to talk to. You may not reach all your customers on Twitter. But you’ve got tremendous opportunity to reach people who reach your customers.

Long time readers know I’m bullish on Twitter. But there’s a simple reason: Twitter is a valuable tool. Any tool gaining the mindshare Twitter has in recent months is far from “jumping the shark.” And any tool with the audience Twitter retains offers great opportunity to grow your business. Let your competitors think it’s a fad. You’ll know better.

Do you think I’m crazy? Is Twitter really just a fad? Or is it useful for your business? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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