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Summary:

Despite its fast growth and media clout, Twitter remains a niche service in the U.S., used by just 8 percent of American Internet users, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. Twitter is most popular among Hispanic, Black and younger urban users.

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Despite its fast growth and media clout, Twitter remains a niche service in the U.S., used by just 8 percent of American Internet users, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The figures paint a picture of a dynamic communications platform that’s still a ways off from being a common tool for most users.

When factoring in that 74 percent of Americans currently use the Internet, Pew said Twitter is actually in use by 6 percent of all Americans, and is most popular among Hispanic, Black and younger urban users. Among 18-29 year olds, 14 percent use Twitter, compared to 7 percent of 30-49-year-olds, the second largest group. Eighteen percent of Hispanic respondents and 13 percent of African-Americans report Twitter use, compared to 5 percent of white users. Eleven percent of urban respondents and 8 percent of suburban participants said they used Twitter while 5 percent of rural users said they did.

Twitter, the four-year-old San Francisco company, reported recently that it has 175 million users, with 370,000 new users signing up every day and 65 percent of users living outside the U.S. According to the Pew survey, the research center’s first effort to examine Twitter exclusively, 36 percent of Twitter users check for new posts on a daily basis while 41 percent say they check the site less than every few weeks or never do it at all.

Of those who update on Twitter, 72 percent said their posts are on their personal life activities, with one in five posting daily. Sharing about work life (62 percent), news (55 percent), humorous or philosophical observations about life (54 percent) and retweeting material from other people (53 percent) are the most popular uses for Twitter.

As we’ve noted before, Twitter is a news platform and a budding media company. It doesn’t have the reach of a Facebook because they serve different purposes, with Twitter more of a one-to-many, asymmetrical service. The latest numbers may underscore the fact that Twitter has a lot of growing up to do. But it also shows that in the hands of its users, it’s a powerful communications tool that serves as both a personal platform for sharing and a way to quickly broadcast the news.

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Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr users Rosaura Ochoa

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  1. I would have thought Twitter had more users. But as a B2B blogger, I think all those people who DON’T have accounts may still check up on your company’s Twitter account while scoping out your website. In that way, I still think Twitter can be effective even if your target customers aren’t active “Tweeters”.

  2. Interesting data on Twitter use. I thought it was much higher, but it’s good to know what’s really going on.

  3. What If You Were Paid Based on Your Klout Score?: Tech News « Friday, December 10, 2010

    [...] influence anywhere other than Twitter, which only a fairly small proportion of people use, as a Pew report this week pointed out. That’s not to say that Chatter or Twitter or any other social network isn’t going to [...]

  4. Danielle Uskovic Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Interesting to see the demographics on twitter usage. I thought using twitter to get exclusive shopping deals with brands would have ranked highly too. It would be good to see the breakdown of the 65% living outside the US.

  5. Only Six Percent of Americans Use Twitter | Express PC Repair ~ Fort Worth Texas Computer Repair: Desktop and Laptop Monday, December 13, 2010

    [...] Isn’t Facebook, It Serves a Different Purpose Ryan Kim at Giga OM concedes that although it has 175 million users worldwide, it’s still a niche [...]

  6. Milton Ramirez,Ed.D. Saturday, December 10, 2011

    RT @jeda21 According to a Pew study, Twitter represents only 8% of Internet users [in the U.S.] http://t.co/jQWcKgOt

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