Monday, April 13, 2009

What Are Older People Doing on Twitter?

Last week when I wrote (again) about older women on Facebook, Ailsa Leadbetter was kind enough to point out that comScore had new data about the age of Twitter users—thanks, Ailsa! In the meantime Marketing Charts was kind enough to do an article and chart on the subject, so I’m good to go.

Note that this post is titled “older people,” not “older women.” I can’t find any data. Twitter has a stats page on their blog, but they seem to be focusing on traffic data, not any kind of audience profile. I did find an app that guesses gender from Tweet contents, but I’m interested in data, not silly apps.

Again, I’m left to hypothesize. Here’s what I think is going on:

1.Twitter has taken the business (broadly defined: remember all the Congresspeople Twittering during President Obama’s speech?) world by storm. The data from HubSpot confirm that. It’s mostly web/desktop applications that are used for Twittering. There’s a good representation of mobile, but almost no fun stuff with pictures!

2.Many of the business Twitterers are male; a majority? I really don’t know, but somehow I guess “yes” by a small margin.

3.It doesn’t make much difference anyway. The Tweet stream is full of business messages of all kinds; gender is not relevant there.

Still, I’m curious. The comScore data comes from their panel, for which they have gender, so I hope we’ll see gender data at some point. The age data is certainly interesting.

Business/professional use of Twitter undoubtedly accounts for some of what we see in the age data. In my reply to Ailsa’s comment, I said that I probably gave less emphasis than I should have to the greater amount of time available to older people to try new technologies. That argument, however, applies better to the 55+ women on Facebook than it does to the most active, 45-54, age group on Twitter.

What should give us all pause is the comment from the comScore analyst quoted in the Marketing Charts article:

[comScore blogger Sarah] Radwanick concluded that current assumptions about who might use a technology first might need to be reconsidered. “Not only teenagers and college students can be counted among the technologically inclined,” she said. “With those age 25 and older representing a much bigger segment of the population than the under 25 crowd, it might help explain why Twitter has expanded its reach so broadly so quickly over the past few months.”

Marketers take note! The nature of the technology early adopter may be changing before our very eyes!

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