Is Twitter Smart to Ditch the Suggested User List?

    October 21, 2009
    Chris Crum

Twitter CEO Evan Willams made some comments at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco that have some Twitter enthusiasts in debate. He reportedly said that he wants to retire the Suggested User List (SUL) as the company prepares to launch its highly anticipated "Lists" feature.

The Lists feature would let people create lists of Twitter accounts, or group together certain accounts that they follow. The feature is very overdue, and could go a long way in making Twitter more useful and reducing "noise."

The SUL, is a feature that lists users, which Twitter thinks new users of the service may be interested in following. The idea has always been that it would be a good way to help new users understand what they could get out of Twitter. Earlier this year, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote about it on the company blog.

Twiter Suggestions

At the Web 2.0 Summit, Williams said the feature was initially meant as a way to help new users, but it’s been controversial, and he wants to ditch it, or possibly "evolve" it. He says that whatever comes after the SUL, should be "Twittery and democratic."

"This is a big deal for Twitter," says Patricio Robles with Econsultancy. "According to Nielsen, approximately 60% of new Twitter users quit within a month. And of those who stick around, a considerable numbers remain small-time consumers of content."

"The implication for Twitter: giving people a reason to stick around is really, really important," adds Robles. "And, given the numbers, it’s clearly a challenge. So how to do this? Well, obviously the SUL isn’t going to perform miracles (it’s not working wonders now if Nielsen’s figures are to be believed) but it is one tool that Twitter has to help new users find the most interesting people to follow."

Some have viewed the SUL as a possible moneymaker for the company as well. Earlier this year, Jason Calacanis tried to purchase a spot on it. He said that in five years the top 20 spots would be worth a million a year. Being on the list can do wonders for a Twitterer’s follower count.