Back in March, when I set up my first Twitter account (@evolvemediaoz), use of the micro-blogging site among Aussies was relatively low compared to other nationalities. According to Nielsen Online, 44 per cent of all Twitter users had only been using the service since October last year.
In April, Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher became the first Twitter member to reach one million followers. CNN (which also now has more than a million followers) noted at the time that some bloggers and Twitter users "expressed concern that the once-cultish site is being overwhelmed by celebrities and media hype".
In the first few months of this year, Australia’s Hugh Jackman also enjoyed exponential growth in followers, particularly after he announced in April that he would donate $100,000 to one follower’s favourite charity after they convinced him why in 140 characters or less.
By June, 21 million unique visitors around the globe had found their way to Twitter, up from 1 million in June 2008, making it the fastest growing web brand and the fourth most visited member community site (after Facebook, MySpace and Blogger). At the time of writing, 1.665 million Aussies had visited Twitter during April, May and June 2009, according to Nielsen Online. During the same time, the active online universe was about 13.647 million.
Deanie Sultana from Nielsen notes that the data reveals a skew to an older audience - a larger number of people over 35 are using Twitter than the general active online audience profile. Twitter users are also more likely to be female in comparison to the overall active online audience.
As noted in my previous post, according to a recent Urban Market Research (UMR) report from Lifelounge, a growing number of young adults are questioning their heavy reliance on social networking.
When asked specifically about how young people are using Twitter, Lifelounge says they found that, unlike Facebook and MySpace, which were was taken up by the “early adopters” before these social networking sites went mainstream, Twitter happened the other way around. In other words, given the celebrity usage of it in the United States (i.e. Ashton Kutcher and Oprah etc), Twitter went mainstream FIRST, before the “cool kids” got a sense of it. So the UMR study found that when surveying the participants, there was almost a sense of reluctance or antagonism towards Twitter, as the trend had already gone mainstream, making them hesitant to follow the crowd.
Additionally, the UMR found that most had a view of Twitter being more for corporate use and not so much a “young person” thing.
Interestingly, Hugh Jackman hasn’t posted a Twitter update since 25 May. His manager says he’s taking a hiatus because, with 421,816 followers, he found it was "getting too time consuming" - presumably, even with the help of a ‘Ghitterer’ (ghost Twitterer)*.
* I am trying to get this new word accepted into the Macquarie Dictionary by 2010...
P.S. My Twitter post on Friday 24 July has proven popular, being re-tweeting numerous times. It's also very relevant to this post - "Great edition from anthillonline.com Kevin Spacey explaining Twitter to Letterman https://bit.ly/183Y7A"
I have just started editing the August edition of Research News and this morning I am compiling the 'Topline' column, which is a summary of recent research findings. While doing so I came across a media release from Lifelounge's Urban Market Research that claims that young people are starting to question the authenticity of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
UMR is an annual trend report into the attitudes and behaviours of Australia's young adults (aged 16-30). It contains quantitative (1,662 participants) and qualitative (25 participants) data based on the five lifestyle pillars of youth culture: music, entertainment, fashion, sport and travel, and the key three influences: communication, finance, and sex, health and wellbeing. The research is weighted against ABS statistics and was conducted online between late January and March this year.
According to the more comprehensive UMR Report on Key Findings and Trends that was circulated with the media release, young Australians are seeking to balance their online worlds with more meaningful offline contact. The report concludes that young people believe "technology should assist, not dictate, how they interact with one another". As a sign of a growing backlash against impersonal digital communication, UMR says talking to friends on mobiles has increased to 97% (up from 95%) while SMSing has remain unchanged. And the modern form of the written word - emailing - is also on the rise, particularly among 16-19 year olds, increasing more than 15% from last year.
The UMR report goes on to say that while the popularity of Facebook has doubled over the last 12 months (43.8% listed it as their favourite website, up from 21.3%), a growing number of young adults are questioning their heavy reliance on social networking. They see it as too commercial, superficial and time consuming, and are questioning its authenticity as they seek to reclaim their privacy and connect with their real friends. MySpace is on the wane (down to 10.7% from 17.5%), although it’s still considered the best online social destination for music.
There is actually no mention of Twitter in the report, so I am going back to the PR folk to find out.
If you know of any research about how many young people are using Twitter in Australia, please comment below.