Who's on Twitter? Eight percent of American adult Internet users, and particularly young adults, minorities and people living in cities, according to Dec. 9 report from the Pew Research Center. Of those users, 2 percent said they visit the site on a daily basis.
Diverting from previous surveys, in which Twitter was lumped in "another service" for sharing updates or seeing updates about others, the Pew researchers decided to get specific and ask directly: "Do you use Twitter?"
What they found was that Twitter users make up 10 percent of all female Internet users, versus 7 percent of Internet-using men. Tweeting is also more popular with those in the 18-29 age category-14 percent, versus 7 percent of 30 to 49 year olds, the next most popular category. Also, of adult Internet users, 18 percent of Hispanics are on Twitter-versus 13 percent of "non-Hispanic black" adults and 5 percent of non-Hispanic white adults-and more have a college education than don't.
Joining forces with Princeton Survey Research Associates International, which performed weekly surveys in October, it was discovered that Twitter users are evenly split between those who check the site on a daily business and those who occasionally check in.
What's everyone tweeting about? The researchers broke down types of tweets into nine content categories, and found that the typical user posts four of the nine types. Overall, 72 percent of Twitter users said they post updates related to their personal lives and interests, while 62 percent said they post about their activities, interests and work life. A helpful 55 percent tweet about news items-12 do this at least once a day-while 54 percent instead go in for the humorous/philosophical observation.
Just over half of Twitter users retweet posts-18 percent of them on a daily basis-and send direct message. Forty percent share photos, 28 percent share videos, and 24 percent let others in on their whereabouts.
The Centers for Disease Control have found the number of Americans without a home landline to be increasing-in March 2009, 25.4 percent of adults relied entirely on a wireless phone. Pew notes that its questions were asked via a national telephone survey that combined landline and cellular numbers.
Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project answered the question of who's texting with the answer: teenage girls. On average, 14- to 17-year-old girls are sending more than 100 text messages a day, while boys average 20 texts.
On the upside, teens are using their mobile phones to share photos and stories, to arrange get-togethers and to micro-coordinate their schedules; on the downside, they are using them to cheat on tests, wriggle around rules and fire off sexts.
"Understanding how youth use mobile phones is vital to creating effective policy based on the reality of how the technology is used," stated the report. "It is also important to understand how telecommunications company policies and pricing affect how teens and parents use their phones," the report stated.
Twitter first launched July 15, 2006, according to Pew, and reportedly has tens of millions of users worldwide.