REPRINTED FROM KENRADIO, an outstanding blog on the evolution of technology.
In the past three years, developments in social networking and internet applications have begun providing internet users with more opportunities for sharing short updates about themselves, their lives, and their whereabouts online. Users may post messages about their status, their moods, their location and other tidbits on social networks and blogging sites, or on applications for sending out short messages to networks of friends like Twitter, Yammer and others. Currently 15% of online American adults said they used a service like Twitter or another service that allowed them to share updates about themselves or to see the updates of others. Back in December 11% and in November 9% of internet users used Twitter or updated their status online and in May of 2008, 6% of internet users responded yes to a slightly different question, where users were asked if they used “Twitter or another ‘microblogging’ service to share updates about themselves or to see updates about others.”
What is Twitter
Brief history of Twitter which is the most well known. First made available to those online in August 2006. Twitter allows users to send messages, known as “tweets” from a computer or a mobile device like a mobile phone, Blackberry or iPhone. Users of the service are asked to post messages of no more than 140 characters and those messages are delivered to others who have signed up to receive them such as family, friends or colleagues.
A small survey from Nielsen about the five fastest growing “member community destinations” in the U.S. reveals what we all kind of knew already: Twitter is at the top. From February 2008 to February 2009, it clocked in at a whopping 1,382% growth rate. That’s to be expected, considering the amount of press the still-without-a-business-model microblogging service has gotten in recent months. In third place is Facebook, with 228% growth year-over-year according to Nielsen. That’s not terribly surprising, as Facebook is still growing in the U.S. but not quite as exponentially as it once was. There are, beyond that, a handful of interesting things to note. Two of Nielsen’s top five, for example, aren’t social networks but rather wiki creation services: Zimbio (240% growth) and Wikia (172% growth). And in fourth place is Multiply, which probably got a surge of activity when it recently acquired the MSN Groups service that Microsoft was spinning off.
How Tweeters Tweet
Twitter users and status updaters are a mobile bunch; as a group they are much more likely to be using wireless technologies laptops, handhelds and cell phones for internet access, or cell phones for text messaging. More than three-quarters (76%) of Twitter users use the internet wirelessly – either on a laptop with a wireless connection, or via PDA, handheld or cell phone. In comparison, 57% of those who go online but do not use Twitter, and 59% of internet users as a whole connect to the internet wirelessly. Overall, cell phone ownership among Twitter users is comparable to the online population as a whole, but Twitter users are more likely to use their cell phone to text and go online. More than four in five (82%) Twitter users have a cell phone and use it to send text messages, while 59% of those who go online but do not use Twitter (and 61% of the internet-using population at large) own a cell phone and use it to send text messages. Twitter users are also more likely to use their cell phones to connect to the internet; fully two in five (40%) Twitterers with cell phones use the device to connect to the internet, while one quarter (24%) of those who go online but do not use Twitter do the same. Along with communicating extensively via untethered mobile devices, Twitter users are more likely to consume news and information on these devices as well. For many Twitter users, learning about and sharing relevant and recent nuggets of information is a primary utility of the service. While Twitter users are just as likely as others to consume news on any given day, they are more likely to consume it on mobile devices and less likely to engage with news via more traditional outlets. Twitterers are less likely to read a printed copy of a newspaper, but more likely to read a newspaper online (76% vs. 60% of non-Twitter users), and more likely to read a news story on a cell phone (14% vs. 6%) or on a smart phone (17% vs. 7%). A similar pattern holds for video news consumption; on any given day, Twitter users are just as likely as others to watch news on a TV, and just as likely to watch video news on a computer, but more likelcell phone (6% vs. 1%) or on a smart phone (8% vs. 1%).