Twitter–social networking for grown-up tastes?

In Facebook, social issues and new media, Twitter, Uncategorized on August 30, 2009 by gingercatmom

I discovered Twitter last year, signed up, and was surprised at who wasn’t there–most of my younger friends and colleagues who use other social networking tools such as Facebook, and none of my teenage kids. What I did find at Twitter: friends who were (gasp) over 40 and eager to connect via this new site–as well as a number of business and organizations that I regularly follow in other ways.

Apparently my experience was not unique. Claire Cain Miller, a New York Times writer wrote this week about the surprising social networking age gap on Twitter. Miller says Twitter’s success has been driven by an older age group that may be trying social networking for the first time through their Twitter experience. Even Oprah jumped on board this April, when Twitter’s CEO Evan Williams gave her a lesson on the show. To her devoted fans, Oprah’s “tweet” was a ringing endorsement of this social networking site. Within moments of Oprah’s first tweet, the service was bombarded with thousands of responses welcoming Oprah to their online world.

When Oprah says Twitter, America Twitters.

When Oprah says Twitter, America Twitters.

Forrester Research released a report last week on social networking use in the United States. Social networking by people aged 35-54 grew 60 percent in the past year. To put that in further perspective, half of the American adults online now use social networking.

For marketers, the lesson here is that changing media usage patterns require our close attention. If we want our messages to hit the mark, we need to be attuned–and then respond–to who is online and what they are doing. According to the report, “the time to build social marketing applications is now. Interactive marketers should influence social network chatter, master social communication, and develop social assets — even if their customers are older”

What we have thought of as new or emerging media is clearly moving towards the mainstream of American life and it’s a very real way to reach those who make the decisions and purchases that shape business today.


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