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Young Early Adopters Don't Drive Twitter's Traffic

The majority of Twitter users worldwide are 35 or older. Young adults 18-24 make up only 10.6% of the Twitter population in the US and are less likely than the average user to Tweet, according to an analysis of February data by comScore blogger Sarah Radwanick, MarketingCharts reports.

This skew toward middle-aged demographics early in Twitter's life cycle suggests that - in contrast to other social networking applications - younger users are not driving popularity of the microblogging application, and the traditional "early adopter" model may need to be reconsidered in light of its popularity among older adults, Radwanick said.

In a recent blog post, Radawanick noted that the number of February Twitter users worldwide had grown to 10 million, up 700% vs. a year ago, while the number of Tweeters in the US reached four million, up more than 1,000% from a year ago.

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Of the US users, 10% are between 55 and 64, nearly the same amount of users as those between ages 18 and 24 (10.6%). Another 5.2% are age 65+. This distrubution does not indicate that Twitter is the medium of choice for younger adults.

Middle-Aged Spend More Time Tweeting

To further the argument that Tweeting is not a "young" phenomenon, US Twitter users who are in the 35-to-44-year-old age group spend nearly 20 minutes on the microblogging site at any given visit, according to comScore. This compares with those ages 18- 24, who only spend 5.3 minutes on the site, and 25- to 34-year-olds who spend 5.8 minutes. After the 35-to-44-year-old age group, time spent on Twitter falls again.

Users ages 45-54 spend seven minutes on Twitter, but the number rises up to 9.3 minutes for those ages 55-64.Radwanick also cited an analysis from Reuters blogger Alexei Oreskovic, which delved more deeply into the demographics of US Twitter users and assigned them an indexed score. Oreskovic found that 18-24 year olds are actually 12% less likely than the average Tweeter to visit Twitter.

comscore-twitter-age-distribution-users-april-2009.png

"It is the 25-54 year old crowd that is actually driving the [Twitter] trend," Radwanick said. "More specifically, 45-54 year olds are 36% more likely than average to visit Twitter, making them the highest indexing age group, followed by 25-34 year olds, who are 30% more likely."

MySpace and Facebook social networking sites have similarly experienced a surge in older users, though, Radwanick said, those increases were after younger users set the pace."Twitter is a rare example of older people embracing a new web technology at such an early stage," said Andrew Lipsman, director of industry analysis at comScore, who suggests that Twitter's popularity among older users may be linked to increasing comfort with the internet and social media as well as its perceived usefulness in business.

Nielsen data from February also confirm Twitter's popularity among older demographics.

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."

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