Posted December 9, 2010 2:24 am by with 10 comments

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If you had to guess, what percent of American internet users would you say uses Twitter? 30%? 15%? 10%?

According to the latest report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the answer is 8%. Eight! How can that be? Twitter is one of the most popular social media services. Famous people Tweet every day. Twitter is used to help raise money during a disaster and detectives in England are being trained to use the service to help track criminals. So how can it be that only 8% of internet users are hanging with the bird?

In September’s Pew Report, it was noted that 24% of internet users used Twitter or “another service to share updates.” This time around, the researches asked a more specific question, namely, “Do you use Twitter?” Can’t get more specific than that.

Since 74% of Americans are internet users, that means only 6% of the entire adult population of the US is Tweeting.

Not surprisingly, the report shows that people aged 18-29 are more likely to be Twitter users, as are African-Americans and Latinos. Urban dwellers are twice as likely to use Twitter than their country cousins and that makes perfect sense, too.

To make matters even odder, Pew asked the Twitter uses how often they check their Tweets. 24% said several times a day while 21% said infrequently to never.

Of those that are posting, 72% said they post personal updates, 62% post work updates and more than 50% share news and retweet. Tweeting locations and sharing videos landed in the lowest spots on the chart.

If these numbers are true, does that change your opinion about the usefulness of Twitter as a marketing tool? Or are you convinced that it’s the helping your business succeed?

  • and I like to see some figures on what percentage of twitter accounts are people who signed up and then quickly lost interest, or long inactive, or just ghosts.
    I know if I check out twitter accounts at random I see a lot of less than active users

    • Cynthia

      That’s the 21% who rarely if ever check in. Nearly a quarter of all users!

  • This can so easily be flipped around to show how fast Twitter is growing. It was founded in 2006, and didn’t gain real recognition until March of 2007 at SXSW. For 3+ years in the public eye it has gained a significant user base, and a high penetration among cultural leaders: celebrities, journalists, and politicians. It is also rather insular to just use numbers from the US.

    I’m really confused how market penetration at a certain point in time equates to “usefulness”, whatever that means. So if you go back to the early days of the Web and find a point where it had equal penetration, would it have not been “useful”? How about TV or the telephone?

  • Twitter is out of this world, it is something else, in just a matter of time it will catch up with facebook

  • Twitter is a great micro blogging tool and also very effective and it is gradually taking over the internet, in juust a matter of time it will catch up with facebook

  • Janet Barclay

    I don’t think the number of people using Twitter is as important as whether it’s being used by the people you want to reach. I’ve made some really valuable connections on Twitter, many of which have led to opportunities I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.

    • Cynthia

      Very true but I still think the number, though rising at a rapid rate, is surprisingly low.

  • I agree, the numbers are surprising. I had thought that the percentage would have been a lot higher. I personally don’t use Twitter for marketing to new clients. I use it to keep in touch with current customers.

  • mikel

    Twidium can quick increasing number of your Twitter followers. Site –

  • In all honesty, I think that Twitter is only used by marketers and a few celebrities – if I want to talk / share personal things with friends, I use the email or Facebook (if we organised something as a group).
    Most of my non-tech friends (and that’s most of my friends) don’t even know about Twitter.