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Should Twitter have an age-limit?

July 28, 2009

Media companies have always segmented. When you’re in college, you buy Maxim. When you graduate, your dad buys you a subscription to Time. About three years later you start to appreciate the articles in it.

But with new media, it’s always been a young person’s game. There hasn’t been a way to really segment your product, because the only target audience is under 30.

Enter Twitter.

I remember when I found out that Twitter’s users under 34 made up less than a quarter of its visitors. I was shocked. A social network, without the generation that grew up on social networking? How could that be?

On Facebook, 92% of the sites traffic comes from the under 34 group. Sure the older crowd is starting to get hip, but it’s going to take a while. They’re simply not getting the pressure to join that someone in Gen Y receives. My 23-year old friend got 2-3 invites per day before he got a facebook. My 49-year-old father gets one invite a month from his wife (who’s in her 30s.)

But, this skew towards an older demographic may be Twitter’s competitive advantage. And that’s why I hope the Twitter founders realize what they’ve got.

If I’m working at Twitter HQ, I’m going to work as hard as I can to position Twitter as “The Social Network for adults.”

Obviously there’s a fortune to be made pulling in investors by appealing to the youth. But, I don’t think Twitter can take Facebook’s users. And the Twitter service is uniquely set-up for users who are older.

First, it really can act as a customized feed of your favorite authors and celebrities. The older demographic has flocked to the site because they can catch Rick Reilly’s latest thoughts, without having to wade through Jennie’s 21’st birthday pictures, seven of their friends having ended relationships and a half dozen invites to various parties/groups.

And because there’s just updates, Twitter is NOT time consuming. For time-starved adults, the quick hits/micro-blogging model is the most appealing.

So if I’m running Twitter’s marketing, I’m accepting that Facebook owns the crowd under 34. If I want to run an ad, I’m positioning Twitter as the Grad School to Facebook’s raucous party atmosphere. That is a smaller audience, but it’s a much more attainable audience.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2009 9:41 pm

    Very well said! I will pass this on to those who ask “Why Tweet?” Thank you.

  2. July 29, 2009 10:31 pm

    Interesting comparison there. I do both, but spend most of my time on Twitter since I can get (and spread) more information there. Maybe the age difference has to do with the fact that the two are so different…

  3. toddliss permalink*
    July 30, 2009 9:36 am

    The future of Twitter and the news

  4. sanshumor permalink
    July 30, 2009 9:40 am

    The reality is this: most adults are looking for information. Twitter provides more of that than Facebook. Facebook is about stalking (I use the term loosely) and keeping in touch. Teens love that stuff.

    As an adult who has to be abreast the latest media trends, I go to Twitter to get quick access to whats hot and to put out information quickly (along with rantings and other random thoughts) And its fun to browse what others think of certain things in news, finance, etc. Again, an exchange of information is what I seek on Twitter.

    I go to Facebook when I want to see the photos of my friends bachelorette party. Big difference.


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