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Summary:

Though Twitter is used by celebrities like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher, a recent analysis by Nielsen concluded it hasn’t yet caught on with the under-25 set, which it found accounts for just 16 percent of Twitter users. But not everyone agrees with the way the findings, […]

twitter-bird1Though Twitter is used by celebrities like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher, a recent analysis by Nielsen concluded it hasn’t yet caught on with the under-25 set, which it found accounts for just 16 percent of Twitter users. But not everyone agrees with the way the findings, gathered under the title “Teens Don’t Tweet; Twitter’s Growth Not Fueled By Youth” are being presented, nor the methodology used to procure them.

There’s a lot we still don’t know about the number of teens and young adults on Twitter, social media researcher Danah Boyd pointed out in a blog post last week. First, Boyd notes that the demographic Nielsen measured to find out how many people under the age of 25 are on Twitter spans everyone from ages 2-24, failing to distinguish between teens and young adults. Nielsen’s conclusion that teens don’t tweet also presents an interpretation problem, according to Boyd, because “saying that 16% of Twitter users are 24 and under is NOT the same as saying that 16% of teens are on Twitter.” And while comScore reported that Twitter drew 44.5 million unique visitors in June, Facebook’s audience has already passed 225 million and is still growing strong — Twitter’s numbers, in other words, show the site’s audience still has room to grow. Or as Boyd puts it, “The majority of people are not on Twitter, regardless of how old they are.”

And Facebook does appear to be the destination of choice. Professor Jon Taplin, who teaches digital entertainment classes at USC, told MarketWatch that his students “don’t care about Twitter at all,” opting to spend their time on Facebook instead.

Indeed, of the nine college students I spoke to from Stanford, UT Austin and Brown, only three said they had a Twitter account. And Ingrid Pangandoyon, a senior at Brown, said she was considering canceling her account because “I can easily get an update on my friends’ lives through Facebook.” The two others, both students at UT Austin, said they only use it every month or so. “Twitter is great for advertising and creating buzz and I don’t really think that a lot of college students are interested in that right now,” said UT Austin senior Adriana Lugo. “College students prefer following their friends or keeping in touch with their closer circle rather than reaching out to something completely unknown to them.”

Students also didn’t like that Twitter is centered entirely around status updates that are available to the rest of the web. Beyond that, some said Twitter just hasn’t caught on yet. “You might be labeled a nerd if you have a Twitter account,” according to UT Austin sophomore Ryan Rasmussen.

While teens and young adults don’t make up the lion’s share of the population on the web, they play a significant role in determining its direction. Twitter will have to start catching on with this demographic if it wants to stick around in the future.

  1. No one tweet except for bloggers

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  2. Coming from a teen, I can say that teens don’t tweet. The only teens that tweet are the teens that are into technology more heavily then just the teens that visit Facebook 10 times per day. The reason teens like Facebook more then twitter is because of the media and security features. With Facebook, users can upload media files directly to their profiles, instead of third party applications. Bottom line is, Facebook has more traction, and better community then Twitter.

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  3. It’s so catchy. i can’t help having the unmistakable feeling that everyone who hasn’t discovered it yet, which is a LOT of people, are definitely missing out, and would use it if they downloaded an application like TweetDeck. That’s what got me hooked. I think it’s something to do with the “push button net”-ness of it.

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    1. My daughter has a twitter account. Doesn’t actually tweet herself much, but does read a lot of the threads and trends.

      Installed Seesmic on her desktop, and she is loving that her friends facebook status’ and tweets all show up in the same screen without refreshing manually.

      Teenagers would love to experience facebook as a stream, but its not there yet.

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  4. people on it now are still the tail end of the early adopters. there’ll be a landslide of new adopters soon, i’d wager.

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  5. It’s amazing that mainly adults participate in this pastime…blows my mind. (is that 160 characters?)

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  6. Why is this controversial? If you don’t believe Nielsen, check Quantcast. The fact is, teens do *not* tweet. Twitter is neither fun, nor useful. Teens see that better than adults.

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  7. twitter is most irritation over rated technology in recent years …..dont know whats the hype about

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  8. I know hundreds of people in this demographic. Not a single one of them tweets. They’re all on facebook, though.

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  9. I can understand why celebrities tweet and why their fans tweet back. But I don’t know why anyone else would even bookmark the site.

    Anyway, I do know from reading 4chan and PBNation that no teen on either board will admit to using Twitter even if some do. And yes, they are all on Facebook.

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  10. Most teens can’t afford the expense of a monthly data plan required to use Twitter from their mobile phones…

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