I recently had a conversation with someone who was curious about Twitter. When I tried to explain it in further depth I didn’t have much trouble. But when I was asked who is on Twitter, I was stumped.
After conducting a brief internet search, I discover a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project report, which outlines details of Twitter usage, makes for a fascinating read.The findings are slightly confusing but basically show that Twitter is more likely to be used by young adults, African-Americans and Hispanics, women and city dwellers:
• Internet users ages 18-29 are much more likely than older adults to use Twitter. According to the study, 14% of online users who also use Twitter are in the 18-20 year old bracket versus 7% in the 30-49 year old group, 6% for 50-64 years old and 4% of the 65+ group.
• African-Americans and Latinos are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as white internet users. Of all internet users, 18% of Hispanics and 13% of black respondents use Twitter, with only 5% of white Internet users claiming they use Twitter.
• People who live in cities are twice as likely to use Twitter as rural dwellers. 11% of internet users who live in urban areas use Twitter while compared to 5% in rural areas.
• Women and the college-educated are also slightly more likely than average to use Twitter. 10% of online women use Twitter versus 7% of men on the internet. 9% of college-educated consumers on the Internet use Twitter versus 5% who only have a high school diploma.
• As for household income, the two groups most likely to be using Twitter are those internet users who earn less than $30,000/year or those earning between $50,0000-$74,999/year.
As a small business trying to decide whether you should get involved in Twitter, you may want to look at your target audience to see where they fall in this complex tapestry of statistics. However, even if your core target market falls outside of these ‘tendencies’, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be using Twitter. Remember that even if your market represents a tiny percentage of Twitter users, this is still a very large number.
But demographics never tell the whole story. It is fine understanding who uses Twitter. But it is far more interesting to understand HOW people engage in Twitter.
According to the Pew study, 36% of Twitter users check the site frequently (at least once a day or several times a day). However a full quarter only check their Twitter updates a few days each week or even every few weeks. But the most stunning statistic is that a whopping 41% say they check Twitter less than every few weeks-or never!
This latter revelation seems to echo a pessimistic finding published in September 2010 by Sysomos in which they claimed that a full 71% of all tweets are ignored by those who receive them.
The Pew study offers interesting insight on what type of activities people actually engage in once in Twitter:
* Three-fourths of Twitter users say they post updates related to their personal life.
* 62% say they post updates related to their work life.
* 55% of Twitter users share links to news stories.
*54% of Twitter users say they post humorous or philosophical observations about life
* 53% retweet materials posted by others
*52% send direct messages to others
*40% share photos
*28% share videos
* 24% use Twitter to tweet their location
Whether you’re on Twitter to reach customers or just to engage with friends and family, it’s a fascinating tool that will only continue to grow in the future.
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