Who are All of These Tweeple?

Twitter is not a social network. While Facebook is the digital equivalent to your online residence,  Twitter is your window to relevance, a network where individuals connect through fleeting interactions yet rooted in context and interaction.  How we embrace and invest our persona in this paradigm says more about the future of digital culture and ourselves than we might imagine. And, it’s only increasing in its societal prevalence.

- More than 100 million Tweets fly across Twitter every day.

- The lifespan of a ReTweet is roughly one hour.

- Over 175 million people have created a micro presence on Twitter, with that number expected to grow to 200 million by the end of the year.

At just four years young, Twitter’s growth is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Twitter is at the center of the social media egosystem, firmly placing the “me” in social media among the digerati. While it’s not the largest online network in the world, Twitter is indeed both a real-time and real world lens into a thriving global society. At any moment, we can peer into conversations, experiences, and observations to take the pulse of a very human network and learn about what has its attention at macro and incredibly micro levels.

Suddenly the obscure become recognized, the muffled are amplified and what was once private now becomes public. The back channel is now the front channel and what was once an ambiguous social network connected by streams of @names and @replies is now a reflection of who we are individually and together.

If we are the collective essence of Twitter, perhaps understanding the individual social catalyst will give us insight into the vital spark of Tweets, follows, and followers.

Who are These Tweeple?

For brands, scholars, media leaders, and everyday people, studying the nature and composition of Twitter helps us harness its liveliness and channel activity into insight. I recently met with the team at Ad-ology Research while speaking at the SummitUp Conference in Dayton Ohio. We discussed Twitter and its denizens (you and me) and they shared a recent study that I was permitted to also share with you.

The report, “Twitter Users in the United States” surfaces the demographics and psychographics of Twitter users for brands and businesses to better understand the hearts and minds of this unique group of potential customers and influencers.

If we were to humanize the results, we see that the average Twitter user is likely to be:

- Women than men
- Single, with no kids at home
- Have average incomes
- With some college experience
- Own their primary place of residence
- Live in a suburban location

Age

Of the 2,100 people surveyed, the age of Twitter users divided mainly among two groups, but significantly among four…

25-34 = 28.4%

35-44 = 26%

18-24 = 17.8%

45-54 = 13%

Race

The balance of users in this particular study skewed toward white people with 73.6% followed by English speaking individuals of Hispanic origin with 9.6% and 8.7 of reporting participants representing black communities.

Education

As you can see, those who participated in the study indicate that Twitter is home to a well educated society. 30.3% have completed some years of college, 24.5% have earned a Bachelor’s Degree and 18.3% have finished Grad School.

Gender

As in most of the most popular social networks in the United States, more women than men have created accounts on Twitter. And in my work with Klout and PeopleBrowsr, we also learned that when analyzing the greater population of the Twitterverse, women also held greater influence over men.

Psychographics

The study also dove into the interests, aspirations, and behavior patterns of those most active on Twitter.

Goals

The top personal goals for Twitter users are: Save more money (74.5%), Exercise more often (63.0%) and Lose weight (58.2%).

Internet

57.7% of Twitter users use the Internet more than three hours per day for personal use (outside of school or work) and are considered “heavy Internet users.”

Media

This is one area I’m not sure I agree and need to learn more about this before I comment…

Some Twitter users are more likely to be “heavy users” of the following traditional media: Television (22.6% watch more than 5 hours per day); Newspaper (22.1% read at least one newspaper 6-7 days of the week); Radio (17.8% listen more than 3 hours per day).

UPDATE:

Per my note, Barry from Ad-ology replied with more insight into the data.

–Twitter users indexed at 115 (15 points higher than all average responses) for watching 5 or more hours of television per day, but they indexed a 223 for getting most of their television programming from the internet (Hulu, iTunes, TV.com etc.)

–Twitter users indexed at 112 for listening to radio more than 3 hours per day, but indexed at 270 for internet radio services (Pandora, Last FM) and 236 for listening to out of town stations via the internet.

–Twitter users indexed at 107 for 4-5 day newspaper readership and a better than expected 88 for 6-7 day readership, but they indexed more than 3 times as likely at 307 to say they would subscribe to a newspaper online that offered a reasonably priced subscription.

Perhaps the most important element of this part of the research is that it paints a less grim picture for the future of traditional media – even among the most active and savvy on social media.  There is still strong loyalty for most traditional media and if they can effectively make the leap to grab attention where its focused, social actually breathes new life into their ecosystem rather than extinguishing it.  The hooks change and they’re migrating online, however, content becomes the hub as well as the catalyst for engagement. Relationships are inherently social and with the integration of social hooks and engagement, content and distribution becomes relevant and alleviates  obsolescence.

Twitter Users are Causemopolitan

60.6% of Twitter users follow a cause/charity on Facebook or Twitter.

53.8% of Twitter users state if price and quality were equal, support of a cause or charity that is important to them would influence their purchase decision.

Advertising

72.1% of Twitter take action after being exposed to advertising and 69.2% through some form of content marketing. “Action” is defined as clicking on a banner ad, doing an Internet search, going to the advertiser’s website, buying the product advertised, or calling/visiting the advertiser.

Synopsis

The 78 page report is teeming with intriguing details about the people who continue to make Twitter more relevant with every day that passes. While Twitter provides the technology framework for interaction and connection, it is us who make it special.  We create the linkages that make the world not only a much smaller place, but also more connected and efficient. We improve collaboration and communication with every Tweet, Retweet, and Follow.

I’ve always believed that social media was more about social sciences than purely the technology powering it. In many ways, those of us who study the culture and behavior populating Twitter and other social networks, regardless of intention, are documenting a new chapter of social science, steeped in digital anthropology, sociology, ethnography, and psychology.

Twitter and the Tweets that fly across the Twitterverse are quickly becoming the Alexandria of digital history as well as the crystal ball that may one day better help us predict what’s ahead.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Facebook
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Share
  • Pudentaine

    Informative, enlightening and extremely helpful!

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      :)

  • Copyhack

    Interesting demographics! Thanks for sharing, Brian

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.techguerilla.com/ Matt Ridings – Techguerilla

    Like you, I'm not sure I can see my way to the data given surrounding media usage.

    What I would say, is I'm seeing a behavioral change in media consumption outside of time spent. With the like-minded nature of those contained in our social graphs we appear to be using them as traditional media filters in the same way that we do following news and informational links. Our social pools allow us to discover new television shows for example, that can then supplant an existing one that we use to commit time to. Over time these act as focal lenses to consolidate where, and how, we spend our time. We develop trusted social segments, some members may represent a closely aligned opinion where television is concerned, others books/authors, etc. These micro segments represent our niche interests, whereas mass chatter (Mad Men for example) may influence us not as a trusted source but rather a desire to be part of the conversation/clique.

    Long topic that we could spend hours on so I'll leave it there. Thanks for the continuing perspective.

  • http://twitter.com/StacyTaylor17 Stacy Taylor

    Very interesting stats in here. I always assumed that more men used Twitter than women. One of the stats that surprised me the most was that 22.6% of people watch more than 5 hours of TV per day. I would think most people in the workforce don't have time to watch that much TV. Do you think a decent % of Tweeple are unemployed? Is the % consistent with the population? Was that information captured in the survey somewhere?

  • http://womeninbusinessradio.com Michele Price

    Interesting just confirmed what I already had a feel for… more women than men, more education than not, the only surprise was the age factor, yet when you add up 35+ you get around 54% well darn that confirms what I sensed as well.

    So, my question is who are you wanting to talk to AND are they in this audience? My brain naturally flows to business. Here is what I see… green businesses who want to appeal to the pool of people who care about causes and having a higher education than average with the mindset to use things ahead of everyone else might be a really good fit via Twitter.

    What do you think?

  • http://womeninbusinessradio.com Michele Price

    Interesting just confirmed what I already had a feel for… more women than men, more education than not, the only surprise was the age factor, yet when you add up 35+ you get around 54% well darn that confirms what I sensed as well.

    So, my question is who are you wanting to talk to AND are they in this audience? My brain naturally flows to business. Here is what I see… green businesses who want to appeal to the pool of people who care about causes and having a higher education than average with the mindset to use things ahead of everyone else might be a really good fit via Twitter.

    What do you think?

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  • http://mytwittertoolbox.com David Perdew

    There aren't too many surprises here. I think the bulk of the data suggests the type of people and responses that were taking place on the Internet a long time ago, only now it's more concentrated and analyzed through social media. That's what it is, after all – the social pulse of a few generations of connected people. More of us are using the Internet for more than just browsing these days, and I think we're becoming more educated about what's possible and why you would want to participate.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Well said David…

  • http://www.dotjenna.com/ dotJenna

    Wow! I fit the typical Twitter user to a tee. How funny is that!?!?!

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  • Leanne Hoagland-Smith

    A cause I believe can also be geographic or regional. There seems due to #location keywords that are for local Tweeple. Thanks for sharing. I had read of of these statistics before, but it is always good to see them a second time. Leanne Hoagland-Smith, author of Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits.

  • Alan_Wayne

    “I’ve always believed that social media was more about social sciences than purely the technology powering it.”

    I think this is key.

    The technology comes second to the effect that is causing. The technology of Twitter is not hugely impressive. Saying that Twitter is just a site where you can send 140 character message sent to one another, the technology, fails to take into account massive effects that simple tech is having on society.

    More companies like Twitter need to take chances like this even if the technology isn't truly revolutionary. It is the big thinkers who see the whole picture that do well. Not always the one that has the most technically advanced product.

    It will be interesting what the next couple years bring along that are able to tap into the social sciences.

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  • http://twitter.com/CBaileyMD Cynthia Bailey

    Well, I fit the twitter demographic except for the psycohgraphics. Interesting demographic analysis. I'd say that most of the tweeple that I actively tweet with fit it too. The rest of my 'followers' might just be be robots.

    • Steve

      Great point. Many of my followers are people trying to sell me stuff or get me to “make money”. Like to see the stats on that type of activity

    • http://twitter.com/Ent_Insight EntertainmentInsight

      Be it for recognition, relevance, sales, or just relief from boredom, everybody's tweeting with an ulterior motive.

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  • http://zudfunck.com ZuDfunck

    I don't know if this is accurate
    Not sure I like the bent
    No one asked me anything
    And I've been on Twitter, forever…

  • http://twitter.com/sharayray Shana Ray

    Interesting to see that according to Klout that males are more influential on Twitter than females. I would love to see a study on why that might be.

  • http://twitter.com/sharayray Shana Ray

    Interesting to see that according to Klout that males are more influential on Twitter than females. I would love to see a study on why that might be.

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  • http://twitter.com/mantychgroup Christine Mantych

    I would have to agree that the media user stats seem off. I fit the demographics but may not be classified as a heavy user and I can't remember the last time I picked up a newspaper or listened to the radio.

    As a marketer, how I look at the consumer has completely changed with the advent of social media. It is an exciting time to be in the biz to see where it will all go. Thanks for sharing the stats, Brian.

    PS – I am about midway through Engage. Great food for thought.

  • Emma Fiegert

    This is one of the molt complete research of the Twitter users I've read. That's a good point to start a new social research.

    I think all the results have something to mean with Facebook and its users.

    Anyway, good article.

  • steve

    175 million on twitter and this study's sample size is only 2100 people. With all the interactivity of twitter, i would think we can get a better representative sample. no?

  • Steve

    Great point. Many of my followers are people trying to sell me stuff or get me to “make money”. Like to see the stats on that type of activity

  • http://zachcole.com Zach Cole

    Interesting, so 82.2% have at least some level of higher education. Very well-educated audience it would seem!

    • http://twitter.com/competive Luis F. Garcia Gomez

      Interesting point indeed, would also be insightful to see how this plays in different countries. In some countries less than 20% folks ever enter higher education, while in U.S. over 80% have any Higher education, so it seems a natural.

    • http://zachcole.com Zach Cole

      That’s a great point, and to be honest, one that I had overlooked. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/Ent_Insight EntertainmentInsight

    Very interesting post, thanks!

    I was rather surprised not to see Spanish-speaking Hispanics as a statistically-significant group — was this due to insufficient information, or is that group just not using Twitter according to your research?

    • http://twitter.com/competive Luis F. Garcia Gomez

      Many of us tweet in English! for its more business or accessible to many nations.

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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