Pew released a new study on Twitter demographics today that found only 8 percent of Americans on the web use Twitter. Of that 8 percent, only 2 percent use Twitter on a typical day. Keep in mind that about 74 percent of American adults are internet users, meaning that the Twitter users make up about 6 percent of the entire adult population.
This news shouldn’t be surprising, but maybe it is to those who live in the Twitter echo chamber.
When all of your friends, your coworkers, your spouse and the media you consume are on Twitter, it may seem logical to believe a great deal of America is as well. This is a dangerous assumption for journalists and media organizations to make – and I know I’ve been guilty of it from time to time.
While I still think it is very important for journalists to use Twitter, the following facts must be emblazoned on the brains of media Twitterati:
- Twitter represents a very small group of people in your area.
- Being popular on Twitter doesn’t necessarily make one popular or important in real life.
- Re-tweets, replies and Twitter referrals do not adequately represent the larger interest in or importance of your work as a journalist.
- Most people that use Twitter don’t use it to get news.
Now, the study. The Pew study did find some interesting demographic tidbits that should be making us rethink how we approach the tool.
- There are more American women using Twitter as opposed to men (10% to 7%)
- Internet users ages 18-29 are significantly more likely to use Twitter than older adults.
- African-Americans and Latinos web users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are their white counterparts.
- Urban residents are roughly twice as likely to use Twitter as rural dwellers.