Belfast Telegraph

Is twitter starting to show its age?

By Davy Sims

A shiver ran round the corporate offices of technology, media and investment companies last summer.

A 15-year-old intern in Morgan Stanley said: ‘Kids don’t use Twitter’. Actually he said “... teenagers do not use Twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they realise that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit).”

Did he say “uses up credit”? While the report was anecdotal rather than evidential, it received massive publicity. (Remember when the ‘silly season’ is? Summer?).

When the respected Pew Internet and American Life Institute produces statistics about use of social media — including blogging and Twitter — then we should pay attention.

This month Pew announced: “Since 2006, blogging has dropped among teens and young adults while simultaneously rising among older adults. As the tools and technology embedded in social networking sites change, youth may be exchanging ‘macro-blogging’ for microblogging with status updates.

“Teens are not using Twitter in large numbers,” says Pew. “While teens are bigger users of almost all other online applications, Twitter is an exception — 8% of internet users aged 12-17 use Twitter. This makes Twitter far less common than sending or receiving text messages as 66% of teens do.

“Older teens are more likely to use Twitter than their younger counterparts; 10% of online teens aged 14-17 do so, compared with 5% of those aged 12-13. Young adults lead the way when it comes to using Twitter or status updating. One-third of online 18 to 29-year-olds post or read status updates.”

The commercial end of the internet is run by suits trying desperately to understand the best way to capitalise on this social web intermedia contraption.

The first group they are almost always going to turn to are young people who have no responsibilities to hold them back and an allowance to spend supporting their free-spirited lifestyle.

Another target is ‘young adults’, the engine room of western economies with all that house buying power and 18 years of selfless spending on their offspring, broken only by visits to restaurants, subscription TV and the odd exotic car. How these age groups use all media is important.

When Madison Avenue shivers, some start-ups catch a cold.

Incidentally, I counted about 60 Tweets about the report – unsurprisingly none came from anyone under the age of 30.

Davy Sims blogs at davysims.com

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