The latest demographics show Twitter usage amongst teenagers catching up with older dynamics. The service still dominates in the 35 – 54 year old segment, which makes sense given that the mid-career professionals with nobody looking over their shoulder at the office all day (literally, more likely to have an office or at least a large cubicle) are making more use of a tool that requires constant connectivity for usage. However, teenagers are slowly taking more of an interest in Twitter, which seemed odd to those that assume that technology is most often adapted by the young and moves up. In the case of Twitter, it captured the Blackberry-addict demographic, not the TXTing on a phone demographic that they aimed for. The comScore Blog Entry shows this with some lovely charts.
Twitter started by assuming that you’d want to update your close circle of friends with your goings on. When Twitter hit the scene, my friends in urban areas on the coasts jumped on it to update everyone with what they were doing socially. The teenage demographic doesn’t WANT to publish everything publicly, at least where their parents and/or teachers can find it. Myspace offered teenagers tremendous room for self expression, while Facebook focused on the college (and later high school and young professional) markets of dating and social connection… high college students keeping in touch with high school friends, etc.
Interestingly, Twitter is now integrated with other parts of the web much better, making it a more useful tool for this demographic. One of my high school classmates posted on Facebook that we should follow her on Twitter, as she isn’t on Facebook much anymore, but whether this is inevitable or a function of Facebook’s chasing Twitter and de-emphasizing what made it originally popular remains to be seen. The old core of Facebook, finding old friends and reconnecting, or sharing college experiences with friends across the country, seems to have been supplanted in a barrage of data. Facebook knocked Myspace off as leader by offering a clean and easy to use interface, but when they started fighting Twitter for buzz the news feed stopped being about sharing photographs and more about comments on statuses and wall posts, making it more and more a poor impersonation of Twitter. If you want status and comments, Twitter’s world of feeds and mentions is a far cleaner interface than Facebook’s increasingly cluttered system.
Teenagers either have a close social circle that they are in touch with, or looking for ways to break out of the social world that they inhabit during the day. A service that wants to reach them needs to offer one (or both) of those options. Twitter offers teenagers the ability to aggregate information flow that interests them, and the increasing integration with other aspects of the web make it more interested. When I was in high school, BBSes were the online way to communicate, by college, ICQ and later AIM became the online social center. As Twitter takes that portion of the mindspace, Twitter’s relevance in that group increases. However, the idea that my instant messages would be published on the website (even with the distinction between direct messages and public ones) seems odd to me, but AIM seemed odd to email/USENET users before us.