Teenagers and young adults have historically dominated the social media landscape. These groups were the early adopters and they drove websites such as Facebook and MySpace to amazing heights. This is not the case with Twitter. The latest craze in social media attracts much older users. Twitter’s unusual demographics present both challenges and opportunities for companies that use the site for advertising and marketing.
Twitter had over 26 million users in the United States by the end of July 2009. Statistics provided by Quantcast show the breakdown of the ages of Twitter users compared to MySpace and Facebook users:
Age Range % of Twitter Users % of MySpace Users % of Facebook Users
3 – 12 1% 2% 1%
13 – 17 8% 26% 21%
18 – 34 43% 46% 46%
35 – 49 29% 17% 19%
50 + 18% 9% 12%
This data shows that 47% of Twitter users are 35 years or older compared to only 26% of MySpace users and 31% of Facebook users. Even more surprisingly, nearly 20% of Twitter users are over 50 years old. This is a much higher percentage than the other two sites. Finally, only 9% of Twitter users are under the age of 18 versus 28% of MySpace users and 22% of Facebook users.
So, what do these statistics mean for businesses that advertise or market on Twitter? First, companies that target teenagers will have a very difficult time marketing on Twitter successfully. The statistics prove that people under 18 continue to use MySpace and Facebook but they shun Twitter. Companies that sell products or services to this demographic would be wise to concentrate their social media marketing efforts to campaigns on MySpace and Facebook.
On the other hand, these statistics show that Twitter provides a great opportunity for companies that target middle-aged people and senior citizens. Twitter is attracting a large amount of users over 35 who have historically avoided social media websites. Companies that market to this demographic have a new marketing platform in Twitter.
The surprising number of older Twitter users should drive marketers to the social media site. Time will tell if advertising campaigns on Twitter will be successful or if Twitter’s older users are more sophisticated, compared to the younger users of MySpace and Facebook, and ignore promotional messages on the site.