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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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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