the people using twitter are changing

Think you know everything there is to know about Twitter? It might just be time to think again.

by Guest Editor                                  Emma Rodgers

I’ve always used Twitter primarily for work. It helps me to get ideas, find out news, meet new people and speak with like minded people often doing similar jobs across the UK and beyond. But a crossover as to who’s using it seems to be taking place. Sorry to all those who already knew this but it seems to me that Twitter has become the new Facebook for teenagers. And I find that fascinating.

A couple of years ago, there was a view that the people using twitter were mainly in their 30s & 40s.

More recently a national newspaper quoted the typical user to be a 28 year old female, strangely with a liking for purple (read more here) and research from the 'State of Social Media in the UK' states that only 17% of twitter users are under 24 (read more here) 

Ipsos MORI has it at 40% which sounds nearer the mark.

But I think that’s about to grow significantly in 2013. And here’s why I think that.

I found out recently my 17 year old niece was on twitter. After a chat about this, she said she’d actually met her new boyfriend (who lives 40 miles away) through twitter. They both followed Beyonce and it went from there. Looking at her profile, I was in awe to find she had 1,300 odd followers and would talk about every element of her life through twitter.

Speaking to a colleague who kept an eye on what her daughter was doing through twitter (I’m not sure her daughter knows this), she said that all her daughter’s friends were avid users and twitter had become the default way to talk to their mates on-line.

I then spoke with my 19 year old nephew and his girlfriend who within the last year had both got twitter accounts. All their friends had too. This trend seems to be repeated with every late teens person I meet.

The view generally is since Facebook advertising had come along, they’ve moved onto twitter and others of their age have too. Twitter allows teenagers to follow and access celebrities directly, follow brands on-line and get access to cheap fashion. They also see it as a good way to keep up with mates ‘away from their parents’.

So rightly or wrongly here’s what I now think:

  1. Always refresh what you think you know about social media and keep on top of who’s using what
  2. Think about using each social media channel to its advantages for the audiences that are already there
  3. We’ve got to keep abreast of trends so need to be creative about how to engage with young people on twitter. They seem to think it’s a secret world that we can’t access and that they were there first (we know that’s not true). They’re also using it in different ways than we are
  4. And this one I already knew, but recent conversations have really highlighted – the more you converse on-line, the more engaging it is …..but only if the right people are listening and talking to you
  5. And finally for all those parents of teenagers out there, talk to your son and daughter and tell them a) ‘Twitter is NOT PRIVATE’ and b) there will be an on-line history of everything you do when you’re applying for jobs. I can only speak of the young people I know but there was no social filter on what was being tweeted. That may be because I’m an old ‘un but my view is not to share everything you think in a public forum - it is highly likely to come back and bite you on the bum.

Incidentally, this blog post was written before Paris Brown resigned from her role as Youth Crime Commissioner in Kent but it all too clearly brought home the all too real risks of the impact of social media.

Emma Rodgers is Senior Campaigns Officer at Staffordshire County Council

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