Twitter Use Surging: Should Your Business Jump in?
Believe it or not, "Weinergate" isn't the Twitter trend your business should be following of late. The real news comes from the Pew Research Center, which recently refreshed its data on Twitter usage in the U.S. Its latest report says 13 percent of online Americans now use the social site, a significant leap from 8 percent in November 2010.
The Twitter network is growing rapidly: Usage as a portion of the U.S. internet population has jumped more than 50 percent in little more than six months. Twitter has a ways to go relative to Facebook, but that's a substantial spike in a short period of time. That could spell increasing opportunities for small businesses, too, whether you're a veteran tweeter or just starting to experiment with the site. Some key takeaways from the latest data:
Twitter is getting older: Twitter adoption among people in the 25-44 age group has doubled since Pew's last survey, from 7 percent to 14 percent. In fact, the 25-34 segment now tops the 18-24 age group by a point — 19 percent versus 18 percent — for the highest usage rate. Previously, the younger demographic had a clear lead over older users.
Twitter is more popular among non-whites: One in four African Americans and nearly one in five Hispanics online use Twitter, according to the May survey. Both are significantly higher adoption rates than the nine percent of white internet users who tweet.
The Twitter-verse is mobile: For the first time since it began tracking Twitter, Pew asked poll respondents about their mobile habits. More than half of current users said they access the site from their mobile phone. Twitter users are on the go and often interacting on a smaller screen — a good match for the platform's 140-character limit on tweets.
Tweeters are smart: Pew's data shows a correlation between education and Twitter use: The higher the education level attained, the higher the adoption rate. In fact, usage among those with college degrees or higher (16 percent) doubles that of high school graduates (8 percent).
So what does it all mean? Twitter is maturing, powered by a booming user base. It might not be right for every business, but the potential rewards are likely to expand with its audience. For more advice, check out TweetSmarter's Twitter advice for small businesses. Whether you're new to Twitter or an old pro, you might also take a look at Buffer's five mistakes that are easy to avoid. And if your network is expanding at a similar pace to Twitter at large, consider these free apps for keeping it all manageable.
Kevin Casey is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.