Can Twitters growth continue?

The most recent numbers from Nielsen indicate that Twitter grew 1,382% year-over-year, registering a total of just more than 7 million unique visitors in the US. Not only is that huge growth in one year, but in one month like in January, Twitter.com clocked 4.5 million unique visitors in the US, meaning the service grew by more than 50 percent month-over-month. But can that Growth be sustained?

It is hard to imagine that any technology could sustain that kind of growth. But what is even more surprising and potentially derailing for Twitters growth, is the lack of Twitter adoption in the teen market.

My 14 year old son is an avid text messager and Facebook fan. So recently when he had some friends over I asked them about Twitter and got several surprising responses ranging from “what is that?” to “wanting nothing to do with it”. That is sort of a bizarre dynamic if you think about it. Many new and innovative consumer technologies are first adopted by the teen market. But outright rejection of the technology can’t be good for Twitter long term.

While Twitter is definitely is the shinny new object in town and stars like Oprah and Aston Kutcher are racing to build followings. Perhaps the adoption of mainstream celebs will help Twitter adoption at the teen level but that has yet to be seen. In fact Aston Kutcher threatened to stop twittering recently because of an apparent stalking attempt, which could have an adverse effect on the technology.

Without a strong foothold in the teen market Twitter’s growth may hit an air pocket and if the teen market doesn’t latch on that could spell trouble for Twitter. I think the teen market needs to be convinced more of the value of twitter over SMS or Facebook updates. And long term Twitter needs more adoption by teen idols and integration with prime time TV shows to help capture the all important teen market.

14 comments to Can Twitters growth continue?

  • info

    Here is why people yawn at twitter..allot of people including myself about a month or so ago are like whets the use? They don’t get it. Until someone holds them by the hand and leads them to the promise land they will not use twitter. I tried using twitter on my crack berry for a while and was like whatever, it wasn’t until I put a gadget like “betwittered” on my igoogle home page did I begin to see how awesome twitter is.

    While speaking to my wife about it, she did not even want to hear it, didn’t have time as she was messing with her “MySpace” page, It’s like you have to hold their hand and say this is what you do to make this work and then the light bulb goes off in their heads and it’s a whole new world.

    So, until more people get the word out about how to effectively use twitter, it will take longer to take hold. I think the teen crowd would freak out with it if they would just take a minute to really see what it’s about.

    Follow me at http://www.twitter.com/plochman I’m a huge cycling fan and I follow all the big name riders like Lance Armstrong and others, could not live without Twitter anymore. ( I could just wouldn’t want to see it go).

    @plochman

  • Frank Strong

    It defies expectations, but With respect to social media, Twitter seems to have drawn users from an unexpected demographic: people ages 45-55 are the top users, while the coveted 25-34 year old market comes in at a close second.
    See the fifth bold point on my post here: http://swordandthescript.blogspot.com/

  • Chris Jones

    It's refreshing, at long last, to see a technology achieve massive adoption without 'fad' status.

    I find it reminiscent of the internet ca. 1996, it just appeared in the mass market one day and we never looked back.

    Twitter is an evolution in global communications. Where else can you message the world and get answers?

    It is a paradigm shift.

    It is changing PR. It is clearly impacting news media, marketing & customer service.

    And perhaps most important – it's a brand new playing field for global collaboration & innovation.

    We're all early adopters, and need to keep that in mind. Folks are still learning how to tag & search (the magic sauce is effective use of the 'hashtag'), and the word needs to keep getting around. I'm amazed that Twitter can grow like it has and still be stable .. well, most of the time. As long as Twitter can keep up with growth, I see good things ahead.

    No one ever said change would be easy, especially on this scale.

    Expect more bumps.

    But I don't think the habits of Hollywood stars will be the drivers on this one –

  • CB

    Based on my recent followers/following experience, Frank’s comments about the demographics appear to be right on the money, specifically: “an unexpected demographic: people ages 45-55 are the top users, while the coveted 25-34 year”. It seems to me that these demographics would be more coveted by various companies than the teen market.

    I would suggest that Twitter could take another 2-3 years to find a way to reach the teen market and not lose any momentum.

    As for news, events and information, whenever anyone brings up a topic, more than 90% of the time I had already heard about it via Twitter and those that I follow.

    I like that information comes to me un-edited, un-censored, and in many cases less-tweaked; the immediacy of the news is excellent. I can use my own brain to decide what the real reality is.

    It is also entertaining as the spin via the traditional sources is even more obvious than it use to be, thanks to Twitter.

    @cbemerine

  • Paul Dunay

    @plochman – you raise a great point – it took me quite some time to find how I could integrate Twitter into my own life – sometimes it does take some hand holding to get that adoption

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Frank – thanks for the link – you have some great points on your blog – will follow you going forward

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Chris – I agree it is refreshing that Twitter did get adopted without a teen fad status

    We are seeing not only PR but Analysts who dont accept email anymore – only twitter DMs!

  • Ali

    Are there any possible benefits to Twitter’s lack of younger users? Or perhaps is it less appealing because it has been adopted by the older demographic? This just makes me think about how Facebook started as a site for students and now everyone and their Mom is using it. Maybe the younger generation views Twitter as Facebook for old people.

  • Paul Dunay

    @ ali – there is nothing wrong with it – but if it never gets adopted by the youth market – eventually we will all die off and so will Twitter

  • Kivetros

    Twitter's biggest problem is that it's so bloody hard to describe to someone who has no concept of what it is… but I've never heard of anyone being creeped out or repulsed by it. Some people just think that it's a waste of time. (They are wrong.)

    -K

  • Britta Meyer

    Latest developments on Twitter growth nicely captured and commented on here: If the Twitter Frenzy Is Over, Where Does It Fly From Here?

    http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=107698

    Now, in my humble opinion, Twitter is a phenomenon in online communications, and will transform business – way beyond marketing – for a long time. Independent of what will eventually happen to the company, it introduced the concept of micro-blogging and achieved mass adoption, which is fairly remarkable all by itself. My bet is that it will establish itself as a category in communications technologies, just like blogs, wikis, social networks, and such.

    http://twitter.com/Britta_SF

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Britta – thanks for commenting and thanks for sharing the MediaPost article with my audience

  • Wesley

    Very interesting Post indeed.
    back at Bloggersblog.com I have read a post about MySpace lay offs due to internal and external factors. One external being the rise of Facebook in the US and worldwide. I made an additional comment mentioning the rise of Twitter on the backround of Facebook without failing to mention the open end of twitter since its still unclear where the revenue is to come from.
    At my start-up social network for young baby boomers http://www.activagers.com members openly say that they love to be here because we have a clear focus on them and their needs.I just say plain ol school niche w/ 2.0 tech.
    Allan

  • Ricky

    One external thing which I noticed is the rising of Face book in US and worldwide. It is also entertaining as the spin via the traditional sources is even more obvious than it use to be, thanks to Twitter.

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