Monday, May 18, 2009

Twitter isn’t cool; Too many old people use it

Research firm comScore this week reported that unique U.S. visitors to micro-blogging service Twitter have quadrupled to 17 million in the last two months.
In a blog post, Andrew Lipsman, director of industry analysis at comScore, wrote that the growth curve for Twitter over the past year looks like a textbook “hockey stick.”
The big question is whether the new visitors are lookie loos curious about all the media attention or future users of Twitter. Much of the growth in April’s audience was fueled by interest in celebrity users like Oprah Winfrey. Even I joined on April 22 to see what all the fuss was about.
I think that “hockey stick” growth curve looks like a house of cards when you consider Twitter’s poor user retention rate. See previous post.
Another problem for Twitter is that older people are driving the growth of the service, not hip young people.
Specifically, 45- to 54-year-olds were 36% more likely than average to visit Twitter, making them the highest-indexing age group. (Guilty. I’m 46.) And 25- to 34-year-olds were 30% more likely to visit Twitter. See articles on comScore and eMarketer.
Among younger ages, 12- to 17-year-olds were 41% less likely than average to visit Twitter. And those 18 to 24 were 12% less likely than average to visit.
Potential advertisers can’t be thrilled with those age demographics. Twitter still hasn’t found a way to make money on its service.
Older people are often seen as resistant to change. Case in point: Look what happened when Twitter tried to improve its service by clearing out some of the clutter of “one-sided (message) fragments,” according to the New York Times. Twitter users (read: grumpy old people) complained loudly and got Twitter to back down.

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