There’s a lot of online buzz lately about teens not using Twitter. And there’s quantitative data to back it up. In a recent report, Nielsen provides data showing that 25-54 year old’s represent the biggest age segment of Twitter users. What’s more, it’s this segment that has fueled Twitter’s astronomical growth in recent months. In contrast, the 2-24 age group accounts for only 16% of Twitter users. (I don’t know any two-year old’s on Twitter, come to think of it.)
This isn’t surprising when I think about my own experience on Twitter lately. It seems like an ever increasing number of new follows come from people trying to sell me something, many of them hawking the latest “get rich quick” scheme. I can’t recall any of them being from the under-25-year-old set or late Gen Xer’s. I suspect the huckster segment correlates pretty closely with that smack-dab-in-the-middle age group.
One hypothesis for the dearth of young Twitter users is that Twitter is a social network for meeting new people, and this isn’t what teens use the social web for. They join communities that help them keep up with friends they’ve already made “in the real world,” which is why they are well represented on Facebook, whose functionality is more suited to that.
But I suspect it has just as much to do with the fact that Twitter feels more and more like just another media channel for selling stuff. And because it costs nothing, even the crummiest of wares get sold there. You don’t have to be under 25 to feel like that’s not a place you want to be. Of course it’s easy enough to filter the garbage out of your Twitter feed. But still, I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be more agreeable, and useful, for there to be two Twitters — one social, one commercial. When I’m using Twitter to make social connections I would log into former. And when I’m in business mode, I’d log into the Twitter that feeds me commercial tweets, which I am happy to receive when I’ve got my business, or customer, hat on.
That might not only get more teens interested in Twitter, it might make it a better experience for everyone.