8% of online Americans Use Twitter. Are Your Customers There?

By: Corrie Davidson, 4 Apr 2011

Eight percent of internet-using American adults are using Twitter, according to a November 2010 study from PewResearch Center. Twitter is an increasingly popular social networking activity among young adults, minorities, and those who live in cities especially. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, a project of the PewResearch Center, usually focuses on general surveys and reports on internet usage and activities (as opposed to narrowing questions to a single brand or company) but based on the large increase in Twitter usage and its ever-growing popularity, Pew decided it warranted its own study. In eight surveys between August 2008 and September 2010 PewResearch asked: “‘Do you ever use the internet to use Twitter or another service to share updates about yourself or to see updates about others?’ In August 2008, 6% of internet users said ‘yes’ to that question. In September 2010, 24% of internet users said ‘yes.’” 

The micro-blogging service Twitter launched on July 15, 2006. Just five years later it is an international phenomenon connecting companies to customers and some might even say enabling revolutions. “It is one of the most popular online activities among tech enthusiasts and has become a widely used tool among analysts to study the conversations and interests of users, buzz about news, products or services, and announcements by commercial, non-profit, and government organizations.” – PewResearch Center

Twitter Use by Demographic Group 2010In November 2010 PewResearch asked online adults: “Do you use Twitter?” In this survey, 8% of online adults said they do use Twitter—with 2% doing so on a typical day. This survey also showed that 74% of American adults are internet users, meaning that the Twitter cohort amounts to 6% of the entire adult population.

  • 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.
  • Women and the college-educated are also slightly more likely than average to use the service.
  • One-quarter of Twitter users check in multiple times per day for tweets from others.
  • One in five Twitter users never check for new material on the site itself

How often Twitter users check for material posted by othersAccording to deeper Omnibus surveys on Twitter usage conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, “Twitter users are nearly equally divided between those who check the site on a daily basis (or multiple times per day) and those who check the site infrequently or never. Just over one-third of Twitter users (36%) check for material posted by others on a daily basis or multiple times per day—this is roughly comparable to the two in five (41%) who say they check the site less than every few weeks, or never do so at all. The remaining one-quarter of users say they check the site for updates a few days each week or every few weeks.”

In addition to frequency, users were also asked what they shared on Twitter. Personal and professional observations were the most popular types of updates, while location-based tweets and links to videos are the LEAST commonly mentioned.

  • 72% of Twitter users say that they post updates related to their personal life, activities or interests. 1 in 5 (19%) say they post personal updates once a day or more.
  • 62% say they post updates related to their work life, activities or interests, with 12% doing so on a daily basis.
  • 55% share links to news stories. One in ten (12%) do this at least once a day.
  • 54% of these Twitter users say they post humorous or philosophical observations about life in general, with 16% doing so on a daily basis.
  • 53% use Twitter to retweet material posted by others, with 18% doing so on a daily basis.
  • 52% send direct messages to other users, with 11% doing so on a daily basis.
  • 40% use Twitter to share photos with others, with 12% going so at least once a day.
  • 28% use Twitter to share videos with others. Fewer than one in ten Twitter users (8%) do this once a day or more.
  • 24% use the service to tweet their location (through services like foursquare), with 7% of users doing so on a daily basis.


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