Twitter Growth Proves Early Adopters Need Not Be Young

April 25th, 2009

Typically those who are younger and more tech savvy have been the key to driving adoption of new technology. While the fastest growing segment of Facebook is now women 55+, and other social networks are graying, their massive growth was largely fueled by the young.  But Twitter, which was launched publicly in August 2006, breaks that mold, and makes us rethink the who and why of technology adoption.

Twitter Users by Age
The majority of Twitter users are 35 years old or older. And 45-54 year olds are 36 percent more likely than average to visit Twitter, making them the highest indexing age group, followed by 25-34 year olds, who are 30 percent more likely. Look at the index of 65+.  It’s higher than 18-24.  In fact, in February, 5.2 percent of users were 65 or older.

And the older demos are the ones fueling the growth.  And growth it is.  After months of double-digit growth, traffic to jumped dramatically in March, growing a staggering 131% to 9.3 million visitors. That’s 5 million more visitors than in February!  Fueled in part by celebrity “tweeters” like Oprah, who just started,  as well as substantial mainstream media attention, Twitter ranked as the top-gaining property for the month of March according to comScore.

Twitter Unique US Visitors
The media focus on Twitter the last few months has been heavy. It seems you can’t get through a typical newscast anymore without some mention of Twitter.  Tweets are all over CNN. Some have incorporated Twitter into the live broadcasts.

It’s become part of our culture. Our vernacular.  Tweet. Tweet this.  ReTweet. It’s even become part of talk show monologues. David Letterman spent 5 minutes talking about Twitter (and of course making fun of Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter success) on his April 24th show. He called it the beginning of the end of civilization.

Like it or not, Twitter is changing many things,  including the way the news system operates, further blurring the lines between average citizens and journalists. Timely tweets from those on the scene of events like Flight 1549’s landing in the Hudson have turned average citizens into journalists.

Beyond the fact that social media services like Twitter and Facebook are becoming entwined with the business segment, is the fact that the knowledge to understand and use a micro-blogging service like Twitter is no longer confined to the young as a greater portion of the population has grown older using the Internet in the past 15 years.   And it could be that a comfort level with technology will continue to change the way new technologies leap the chasm to reach critical mass.