Only Eight Percent of Those Online Using Twitter?

Despite all the hype and attention in the media, only eight percent of Internet users are Twitter users according to a recent study by Pew Research. That means 92 percent of those online are *not* using Twitter. Wow! I suppose I shouldn’t be entirely surprised. While I have some “online business colleagues” who are active on Twitter, most of my traditional business colleagues and the vast majority of students in my university classes not only don’t use Twitter, but don’t “get it.”

The study made me wonder how this eight percent statistic compares to other study results. So I did a little digging online to find some comparatives:

Eight percent doesn’t seem like a lot to me, and much lower than the amount of media coverage of Twitter would lead us to believe, I think. In fact, those I know who aren’t on Twitter (who I now realize are part of the vast majority!) often express a certain amount of embarrassment for not being “with it.” Seems they’re more “with it” than they realized! Maybe it’s those of us who are out there connecting with the proud, but few, fellow Twitterers who should be embarrassed.

Of course, just as I caution clients (and myself!) to not jump to conclusions about the value of using any communication channel because “everybody else is,” I’d also caution them not to avoid using a communication channel because of a study that suggests it’s not as popular as we’ve been led to believe.

And, in fact, there are some interesting bits of data in this research that points to some population segments that are notable for their relatively high levels of Twitter. These include:

  • Young adults: Internet users ages 18-29 are significantly more likely to use Twitter than are older adults.
  • African-Americans and Latinos: Minority Internet users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are white Internet users.
  • Urbanites: Urban residents are roughly twice as likely to use Twitter as rural dwellers.

Key takeaway: this can’t be emphasized enough when talking about *any* communication channel. Don’t assume that those you’re hoping to reach are using it–maybe they are, maybe they’re not.

On the flip side, don’t discount communication channels that some surveys show low use for, as in this case. It’s possible that this eight percent of Internet users *does* reflect an audience that you’re attempting to reach. That’s better than if 92 percent of the Internet users were on Twitter but *didn’t* reflect your audience.

Don’t make assumptions. Check it out and make sure that you’re communicating with those you want/need to communicate with.

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