Twitter has more than 500 million users and is continuously growing, but who are all these new tweeters? Pew Research Center has released an Internet study that focuses solely on Twitter and includes some great user demographics. The study is based on the findings of a survey on Americans’ use of the Internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from January 20 to February 19, 2012, among a sample of 2,253 adults.



Twitter is soaring among young adults
15% of all online adults in the U.S. use Twitter as of February 2012, and 8% are daily users. Pew defines an online adult as someone who uses the Internet and/or email at least occasionally. The number of Twitter users has almost doubled from 8% to 15% within 18 months from November 2010 to February 2012. In this time frame the number of daily Twitter users has quadrupled from 2% to 8%. However, the overall Twitter usage has only grown with a couple of percentages over the last year, from 13% to 15 %, but the daily Twitter usage has still doubled.


As we have just learned, the overall Twitter usage among adults has remained steady over the last year. However, Twitter usage among the 18-24 year olds has grown dramatically between May 2011 and February 2012 from 18% to 31%. Twitter usage for people in their mid-20’s to mid-40’s hasn’t changed much. It stayed roughly the same last year after more or less doubling the previous year.



The correlation between smartphones and Twitter usage
The rise of smartphones and mobile apps might account for some of the recent growth in Twitter usage among the very youngest adults. Smartphone users are particularly likely to be using Twitter, and Pew found that one in five smartphone owners are Twitter users, with 13% of them tweeting on a daily basis. 16% use the service specifically on their cell phones. By contrast, only 9% of Internet users who own more basic mobile phones use Twitter and only 3% of them use Twitter daily. Also, people living in urban areas are almost twice as likely to use Twitter on their cell phone as people in rural areas.


The tweeters
The report also broke down some Twitter user demographics to give us a better idea of the people behind the tweets. To draw out just a few of the findings:

  • The male/female ratio of Twitter users is almost equal. Women have a slightly higher Twitter presence than men, with 53% of the users being female.
  • As we already know most Twitter users are young. 26% of Internet users, aged 18-29, use Twitter. That’s nearly double the rate as for the age group of 30-49 year olds where only 14 % use Twitter. Among the youngest adult Internet users, aged 18-24, a whopping 31% are Twitter users.
  • African-American Internet users are much more likely to be Twitter users than the general online population. 28% more than one in four online adult African-Americans use Twitter with 13% of them being daily users. Hispanic users are the second most active group on Twitter (Pew noted that both of these groups have high rates of smartphone ownership).
  • People living in urban and suburban areas are much more likely to be Twitter users than residents of rural areas.



Takeaways for marketers
It’s very valuable for marketers to know who they will be most likely to reach on different social media platforms. Twitter is growing quickly and offers many great marketing possibilities. Two important points for marketers to take away from this study is that the growth of smartphone usage is highly correlated to the growth of Twitter usage, and that the last two years have shown a 400% growth in Twitter usage by 18-24 year olds. Marketers should consider these points when they plan their campaigns and pick their platforms. Brands who wish to communicate with a target group of young and primarily urban and suburban people might benefit hugely from including Twitter in their marketing strategy.