Pew Research recently did a survey to find how many adults use Twitter. The conclusion was that 8% of Internet using adults use it at all while only 2% use it daily. But what interested me more was their “notable conclusions”…
- Young adults – Internet users ages 18-29 are significantly more likely to use Twitter than older adults.
- African-Americans and Latinos – Minority internet users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are white internet users.
- Urbanites – Urban residents are roughly twice as likely to use Twitter as rural dwellers.
One of the responding blog posts listed on Techmeme was from a 16 year old named Michael Moore-Jones. He came to a conclusion that got me to thinking. He says…
Teens' lives are entirely built around their actual friends. Quite simply, why would teenagers bother using Twitter when Facebook exists, and offers so much more? Teens want a platform that allows easy, fully-functional communication to an exclusive social circle. That is, solely to their friends and peers. Twitter is a platform built for inclusive broadcast (to everyone), and to teenagers it offers no obvious value.
Can you think of some reasons as to why your average Twitter user keeps tweeting? Self-promotion and the ability to follow interests immediately come to mind. For example, Robert Scoble uses Twitter to share his insights and knowledge on the tech scene, as well as to receive instant information on those areas of his interest.
I would have agreed with him before today. But the Pew research got me thinking. Do urbanites really self-promote more than rural dwellers? Do minorities really self promote twice as much as white internet users? I really don’t think so.
(As someone whose of half Irish descent and half Latino descent I can tell you the White guys are way more self promoting)
Given that conclusion I tried looking at the numbers without my preordained prejudices and I came to an interesting conclusion: I think Twitter is more about people with very little time trying to connect than it is about self-promoting.
This is something many Twitter users have been saying for quite some time but I don’t think I believed it until now. Follow the evidence.
18-29 year olds use Twitter more: As someone who recently left the 18-29 age group the thing I remember most about it was being pulled between the friends I was making in my adult life while trying to maintain a connection to the friends I’d had as a child. That desire left me desperate to find new, better ways to stay in contact with friends. That’s a problem that’s unique to that age group.
(This is where the teenager point comes in as teenagers also want to connect but they have tons of time on their hands so they can use a time sinkhole like Facebook)
Minorities are twice as likely to use Twitter as Whites: As someone who has interacted with both a Latino community and a White one I can tell you community interaction is more important to minorities. I could give you several unsubstantiated theories as to why that is but trust me it’s true. That’s why you see racially focused Churches for African Americans and Latinos but hardly ever for Whites. Whites generally aren’t as community oriented.
Urbanites are more likely to use Twitter than rural users: I’ve lived in Los Angeles, CA and Rock Springs, WY which are as far apart as you could imagine on the population scale and with that experience I can tell you EVERYTHING takes longer in the city. It takes longer to get anywhere in your car and when you do there are lines everywhere. People from Wyoming can not conceive of having to wait at a stop light through 3 greens because there wasn’t enough time for all the cars to get through. That loss of time makes it harder to keep in contact with friends.
Each point in the Pew poll leads to the same conclusion: The people most likely to use Twitter are the ones trying to connect. Not those trying to self promote.
So I think my opinion of Twitter is shifting. There’s definitely a very vocal group of self-promoters on Twitter but I’m beginning to think they’re the exception and not the rule.