Twit·ter – v. 1. to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird.

Twit·ter
– v. (used without object)  1. to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird.twitter

Twitter is the latest popular social phonomenon. In “Are you a Twit if you don’t want to Twitter?” Martha Irvine argues that while twitter is the latest social phonomenon, perhaps there is a social networking fatigue developing; she sources several people who are willing to admit they are less than fans. However, according to “Twitter Traffic Surging” on USA Today’s site: “Worldwide visitors neared 10 million in February, up more than 700 percent in a year. In the U.S., Twitter hit 4 million visitors — up more than 1,000 percent from a year ago.” – and the demographic using the site is older than that traditionally drawn to social web tools. The article quotes comScore: “More specifically, 45-54 year olds are 36 percent more likely than average to visit Twitter, making them the highest indexing age group, followed by 25-34 year olds, who are 30 percent more likely.”

Both articles look at Twitter in some ways compared to Facebook, which was quickly adopted by the college age group (although neither mention that Facebook was also specifically targeted at first to this group). Irvine proposes it as a way to peek into your friends lives, being given minute-to-minute updates on what they are doing. In that people (especially in the 25-34 year old age group) are ‘fatigued’ and are not looking for yet another way to do this, I agree with Irvine. They already have a site that serves these needs. Why look at and learn to use another?

My own use of Twitter is very different from that mentioned by Irvine, however. While I am friends with a couple of my friends on twitter, I follow news organizations and leaders in the different industries that interest me. I don’t use the site to stay up-to-date on my friends’ lives – but rather on news in general, and on national trends. While it’s possible that some kids (and I use the term lightly, since I’m only 22) may be using the site to watch what their friends are doing, I don’t think that is the primary purpose. I think, rather, it is being used as a source of information (in a way that should be much more important to journalists then Facebook ever was) and to send each other interesting links to articles, interesting links to information and to pass along news on things bigger than themselves that they hear about. Who hasn’t been online and found that fantastic piece, that expresses perfectly your opinions and wanted to pass it along? Or that hysterical Utube video, and wanted to share it? Twitter offers an easy way to do so.

In response to the second piece (Twitter Traffic Surging) USA Today quotes Scorecom as saying:

With so many businesses using Twitter, along with the first generations of Internet users ‘growing up’ and comfortable with technology, this is a sign that the traditional early adopter model might need to be revisited. Not only teenagers and college students can be counted among the ‘technologically inclined,’ which means that trends are much more prone to take off in older age segments than they used to. And with those age 25 and older representing a much bigger segment of the population than the under 25 crowd, it might help explain why Twitter has expanded its reach so broadly so quickly over the past few months.

I think that what I said above stands true. ‘Adults’ or a slightly older demographic then we have seen traditionally adopt social media, are interested in Twitter more than they were in Facebook/Myspace because it better serves their interests and how they use the internet – they want to be able to sign on and see something interesting; they want to be kept up-to-date with news and with ‘developments’ beyond their friends’ lives.

‘Kids’ or a younger demographic are less interested, because Kids / college students / young adults all are still more interested in what their peers are doing and while twitter can be used this way, it is not really efficient for staying up-to-date on your friends lives unless you’re on it every second. The stream moves quickly enough that you’re likely to miss something. In comparison, Facebook leaves up notices; you can go visit a friend’s page and see what they’ve ‘streamed’ as their status for the last few days. Facebook is much more efficient as a peer-to-peer social tool.

Twitter IS amazing for connecting with people you don’t know (I’ve been looking for contacts/sources for stories on Twitter with some success) and for keeping a general eye on what is going on in the world around you via following WSJ or the NYT. While by no means, am I the ‘perfect’ example, or perhaps, even a typical one, this is definitely the roll Twitter plays in my life, while FB plays a more social role among my friends and I.

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