Twitter Guesses: Why Few Young People Use Twitter

twitter-tweetTwitter is somehow more attractive to older people. Twittering public is more likely to be 45-54 years old rather than 18-24 years old. Based on respectful research, this news was quickly recognized as a fact rather than a speculation: Teens Don’t Tweet; Twitter’s Growth Not Fueled By YouthWho’s Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not Teens .

Right after the data became known, we started guessing why Twitter is not patronized by young people: Why Teens Don’t Tweet, Why Adults Have Fed Twitter’s Growth.

twitter-demographic

One of the explanations was the timing of Twitter  – when Twitter became popular, teenagers already had other communication options. I tend to agree with Mahable’s suggestion  that Twitter is not serving main desire of an average teenager – to connect with friends. Twitter is more useful for following news topics, what has never been a focus of teenage life.

twitter-growth

However, the most interesting question, I think, is our surprise that young people are not mesmerized by Twitter, and a need to explain this unexpected fact. Most likely, we are surprised because of our stereotypes, or previous experiences, or success formula lock-ins.

We seem to assume that young people are more likely to be using all new technologies. There is another assumption that young people are more knowledgeable about new technologies than older people. I believe this assumption is incorrect, even if I caught myself more than once thinking exactly the same.

My own “Twitter error” was quite embarrassing. A few months ago I heard about a new group in town – Social Media Breakfast .  I could not attend the meetings because of work, but when I finally had a chance… I felt uncomfortable… I was afraid to walk in the room of 20 year olds and feel as a lost grandmother… It was Social Media after all – a field for teenagers… However, my curiosity and interest for the field easily won over expected discomfort, and I showed up on the next event. To my surprise (and great relief!) the audience was full of people about my age. Yes, I saw young people, and I saw also older people; I saw some people I knew, I saw social media experts who were 10 years older than I, and I felt quite comfortable… Yes, I have not missed a single Social Media Breakfast since that first visit.

Why do we think that young people are more likely to adopt new technologies? 

Oh, yes, there is truth in this fact, but it is probably true very briefly, until the technology becomes known enough to attract its true users. These real users can benefit from the technology, rather then enjoy its brief novelty.

Examples:
Henry Ford was fascinated by his mother’s sewing machine. My 22 year old male coworker in my native country was proudly using his family’s brand-new washing machine, fascinated by its sophistication. Do we really know many young men enjoying sewing or doing laundry?  Probably not…

More specific examples:
Thinking about any corporation – young people are not necessarily those who are PowerPoint experts or Excel experts. Young people do not know this software any better than the rest of us; however, those people who use this software for their work do, disregarding of age. Most of us probably come to that middle-age gentleman in finance with occasional Excel questions.

Twitter is just a tool; Twitter allows people to do certain thing and it will be the most appealing for people who like doing that “certain thing,” rather than just young people fascinated by novelty.

New social media platforms and technologies are spectacularly easy to use – we will probably see more tools adopted by a group of people with certain interests rather than age. I think it is wonderful; it is great for users, and very useful for marketers.

Twebinar – Twitter distraction or useful extension?

twebinar-titleToday I attended a Twebinar the first time and it was a very unusual experience. At first, I could not access the Twebinar at all, but then I realized that something might be not working in IE (am I the only dinosaur who uses IE occasionally?) and switched to Firefox. It worked! 😉

The Twebinar was on an interesting topic and was provided by Radian6, which I admire greatly. However, at first, I felt something was missing…  there was no image of presentation, or video… only twits… and audio. I felt a little disappointed and retweeted a question of somebody else wondering about the video.

I definitely missed some visual cues… and thought that I could send a few e-mails while listening to the audio…  not a good idea – I missed a few points. 😉

twebinar

Twebinar advantage that I saw was the list of all participants’  Twitter contacts and linked web sites imported into the webinar – wonderful opportunity to connect to others.

However, the main Twebinar disadvantage (from my personal perspective) was the lack of anything visual (maybe unusual for Twebinars – I am just lucky 😉 ) and too many opportunities for destruction.  I usually have Twitter open during regular webinars (in the different window), but pay attention on it only when I need to ask a question, or something is wrong (or webinar’s information is not useful). The rest of the time, I am concentrating on the presentation…  even if it is two slides 😉

The perfect answer from my perspective would be a regular webinar (nice PPT, in-depth topic) and a place on Twitter (different window?) where I can see the participants… maybe after the webinar.  But, I will definitely check out other Twebinars… 😉

Twitter Job Search – Will Slow Economy Speed up Adoption of Social Media?

Twitter-job-searchAre you using Twitter to search for the next job?  Oh, yes!  Or maybe you are inviting everybody you remotely remember to join you on LikedIn and Facebook?  Sure! Just in case – nobody knows when the next layoff is coming. Would some of us be so engaged in social media if the economy was better?  Unlikely.

My guess: the fact that we are searching for jobs on Twitter and trying to build networks on LinkedIn, Facebook (and other niche communities) will speed up adoption of social media. The economy is encouraging us to use all available tools to handle the challenges of rising unemployment. Conveniently, social media offers quite a few opportunities and all of them are free.

How slow economy stimulates adoption of social media: 

  1. Almost 10% of the population is actively looking for work. Twitter has a range of job related hash tags and job search specific applications appear (for example Twitter Job Search ). They may not be perfect at this point, but looking for work on Twitter is routinely discussed by outplacement companies. LinkedIn is growing; those who have not heard about the site are being introduced to it through outplacement organizations and encouraged to create a profile.
  2. Those who still have jobs (and worry about possible layoffs) are also expanding their networks just in case, to assure that former co-workers and clients can be reached if needed. Plus, they receive invites from currently unemployed friends who now have time to devote to their LinkedIn profile, Facebook contacts, and post status update everywhere, including Twitter.
  3. Those who could not find suitable jobs for some time are attempting consulting or trying to start small businesses. Social media presents the most cost-effective opportunities to promote these services. LinkedIn Answers, blogging, twittering, or posting presentations on SlideShare  do take time, but because of the economy, time is easily available resource.

Google

Would all these twittering public forget about social media when the economy recovers?

I believe people who were introduced to social media during economic downturn would not abandon their LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other networks. Yes, we all forget about our Monster.com accounts as soon as we are happily employed, but social media is different. Social media is much more than just a job search; this new form of communication won’t be abandoned. Social media seem to reflect dynamic of the society rather than perform a narrow utilitarian function.  

Job search activity is urgent and involuntary, but it is just a first step. Interesting: some HR departments leading their company’s foray into social media, because Twitter and Facebook help HR to fill jobs…  and it is measureable… and it is cheaper than previously known methods.

iPhoneThe only part of emerging media that might be hurt by the recession is mobile. Though Home Broadband is a Must in Downturn  mobile internet and smart phones are not considered that important.

A better day will come for mobile too… What would happen when everybody who fell in love with social media during their job search would be busy again?  This would be a perfect time to turn to a smart phone… 😉

Twitter – Reality and Potential

twitter-futureTwitter: Will It Implode Under the Weight of Its Hype?  was an interesting article was recently published by Click Z.

I agree that Twitter will not revolutionize marketing as some believe, but I also agree that Twitter opened a unique niche, which will not disappear.  Twitter will not allow access to mass marketing… but why do we want to do “mass marketing” in the era of better segmentation opportunities? 🙂

Twitter has unique qualities that no other medium can satisfy:

  1. “Moment-search,” “moment-communication,” and instant opportunity to connect with people who are in the same situation. This is very useful for live events. Some of the examples: a webinar crushed – the attendees immediately gathered on Twitter  and expected communication from the webinar provider on Twitter, what was easier and much more practical (comparing to e-mail or any other communication).
  2. twitter-followCustomer service implications. Yes, customer service can be provided by phone and through Twitter, and the cost would probably be the same. But, customer service successes and failures on Twitter became instantly public – customer service is merging with PR and becoming “public customer service.”  The cost of failing (and benefit from excelling) in customer service rises exponentially. 
  3. Twitter is good for some niche applications. Even if it is an opportunity to reach early adopters only – Twitter has an advantage of doing our segmentation for us! Twitter is useful as a low cost channel for posting jobs, coupons, and business announcements. This marketing tactic makes sense if it is working.
  4. Opportunity to connect with others. Not every speaker at a conference would publish his or her e-mail address, but most happily provide their Twitter URL. This allows asking questions and starting relationships that otherwise would not be possible. 
  5. Limitation of commitment for information provider   and information reader. Though 140 characters are not always enough, it can be liberating. 140 characters limit the amount of time that needs to be spent to write and to read the post. I remember talking with one of marketing managers about her interest in starting a blog promoting the conference. She had information to share – new speakers, updates to web site, etc. However, she would not have time to write a blog. I immediately opened my Twitter account and typed a quick post. “That is it,” I said after explaining more about the micro-blogging tool. “I can do that!” said marketing manager.

twitter-implodeI totally agree that the idea of broadcasting “what are you doing” will eventually disappear, but the business applications of Twitter will probably remain in some form… we just don’t know yet in which one…  I am guessing that useful functions of Twitter will become part of our life in a couple of years, but, maybe, it won’t be Twitter application to provide them. Who knows?  We can just wait an see – it is interesting time in marketing!

MN AMA – How Twitter Fits Into Today’s Business

twitterAnother great AMA event with Julio Ojeda-Zapata, Pioneer Press technology editor and author of “Twitter Means Business”

Julio’s book “Twitter Means Business” is the required reading for one of University of Minnesota classes…

Some notes from the event:

  • What is Twitter? Twitter is Web publishing…  Blogging is time consuming, twitter is not.
  •  Twitter is a big water cooler.
  • Twitter is good for meeting new people. Facebook is better to communicate with people you know.
  • Twitter is something new…

Companies on Twitter:twitter-book

  • Comcast is on twitter; the company scans the twits and contact people who are having difficulties with the service. Comcast is “helping itself.”
  • Sears is not on Twitter; unsatisfied customers are free to express their disappointment without any intervention from the company’s side. Sears is “blissfully unaware” about unhappy customers.

Separate Twitter account can be created specifically for press releases – interesting…  and very reasonable.

Company can set up Twitter account to do one thing, but the effort can morph into something completely different…(similar to blogs)

In a company, managing Twitter account has to be somebody’s job…