Since my last post ("Young people questioning the authenticity of social networks"), I have tracked down some recent data about who in Australia is using Twitter, while working on an article about Twitter for the August edition of Research News (which will be published on 7 August).
Back in March, when I set up my first Twitter account (@evolvemediaoz), use of the micro-blogging site among Aussies was relatively low compared to other nationalities. According to Nielsen Online, 44 per cent of all Twitter users had only been using the service since October last year.
In April, Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher became the first Twitter member to reach one million followers. CNN (which also now has more than a million followers) noted at the time that some bloggers and Twitter users "expressed concern that the once-cultish site is being overwhelmed by celebrities and media hype".
In the first few months of this year, Australia’s Hugh Jackman also enjoyed exponential growth in followers, particularly after he announced in April that he would donate $100,000 to one follower’s favourite charity after they convinced him why in 140 characters or less.
By June, 21 million unique visitors around the globe had found their way to Twitter, up from 1 million in June 2008, making it the fastest growing web brand and the fourth most visited member community site (after Facebook, MySpace and Blogger). At the time of writing, 1.665 million Aussies had visited Twitter during April, May and June 2009, according to Nielsen Online. During the same time, the active online universe was about 13.647 million.
Deanie Sultana from Nielsen notes that the data reveals a skew to an older audience – a larger number of people over 35 are using Twitter than the general active online audience profile. Twitter users are also more likely to be female in comparison to the overall active online audience.
As noted in my previous post, according to a recent Urban Market Research (UMR) report from Lifelounge, a growing number of young adults are questioning their heavy reliance on social networking.
When asked specifically about how young people are using Twitter, Lifelounge says they found that, unlike Facebook and MySpace, which were was taken up by the “early adopters” before these social networking sites went mainstream, Twitter happened the other way around. In other words, given the celebrity usage of it in the United States (i.e. Ashton Kutcher and Oprah etc), Twitter went mainstream FIRST, before the “cool kids” got a sense of it. So the UMR study found that when surveying the participants, there was almost a sense of reluctance or antagonism towards Twitter, as the trend had already gone mainstream, making them hesitant to follow the crowd.
Additionally, the UMR found that most had a view of Twitter being more for corporate use and not so much a “young person” thing.
Interestingly, Hugh Jackman hasn’t posted a Twitter update since 25 May. His manager says he’s taking a hiatus because, with 421,816 followers, he found it was "getting too time consuming" – presumably, even with the help of a ‘Ghitterer’ (ghost Twitterer)*.
* I am trying to get this new word accepted into the Macquarie Dictionary by 2010…
P.S. My Twitter post on Friday 24 July has proven popular, being re-tweeting numerous times. It's also very relevant to this post – "Great edition from anthillonline.com Kevin Spacey explaining Twitter to Letterman http://bit.ly/183Y7A"