May may have started out being Facebook’s month, but today, with the release of Pew Internet’s “Twitter Use 2012” report, it’s that other social media platform that’s coming out looking like a star. Or, at least like the steady hare in the race. While Facebook has been plagued with everything from a mismanaged IPO process to serious doubts over the effectiveness of its paid advertisement, the only negative news story Twitter endured was how Google chose not to buy it in favor of focusing on the ghost town that now is Google+. A decision that the search giant won’t publicly decry but almost certainly regrets. Particularly after reading this new Pew report.
In terms of new adoption, Twitter continues to show steady growth, year after year. 18 months ago, 8 percent of American internet users had a Twitter account. Today, that number has risen by a factor of almost two to 15 percent. Compared to Facebook’s 66 percent penetration, this number may not seem impressive, but it is given Twitter’s shorter lifespan (Facebook predates Twitter by almost 2.5 years) and its growth in another important area: daily usage. Twitter users who check their feed on a daily basis have increased fourfold since November 2010. What is most impressive about this new data, both new adoption and daily usage, is just how disproportionately popular the platform is among young people. 18-24 year olds, the youngest included in Pew’s survey, were by far the most avid Twitterers with almost one-third of them present on the platform and 20 percent checking in every day.
Not surprisingly, young people are also driving Twitter’s mobile growth. Since this is the first year Pew looked into this, YOY growth can’t be measured, but the correlation between youth, smartphone ownership and Tweeting is a strong one. “Smartphone owners are much more likely than average to use Twitter,” the report concluded. And again, the youngest age group (18-24) lead the way, with 22 percent using a mobile device on a daily basis to check their Twitter feed.
Facebook may be the rabbit ready to reach one billion users this August, but with 55-and-older serving as their fastest-growing demographic, Twitter certainly is the youthful hare.