Claire Cain Miller had an interesting article in the New York Times this morning about Twitter’s lack of popularity with teenagers. She noted that just 11 percent of Twitter’s users are between the ages 12 to 17, as the site’s growth is fueled by adults.
While the media has paid a lot of attention to the “teenagers aren’t the only trend-setting age group anymore” story, I don’t think this should be a surprise. If you take a look at the last 10 years, the most successful social network among younger people has been Facebook. The reason Facebook was so popular among this age group is because it was rolled out exclusively to college students before anyone else. Think about it: college students had their own, private social network for them and their friends.
So when Twitter entered the scene, these students already had a destination (that almost all of their friends were a part of) where they could communicate, organize parties, share pictures, etc. There really wasn’t a need for Twitter, and since most of their friends weren’t on Twitter, what’s the point of joining?
My cousin is going into his junior year of college and has both a Facebook and Twitter account. He’s very active on Facebook, but only uses Twitter once in a while. Most of the time it is to see what certain athletes are up to, but he doesn’t use it to communicate. And why would he? His interests don’t extend to Twitter unless he puts in some extra effort, and that is certainly not his intention. When he has free time it’s spent studying for an upcoming exam or hanging out with some friends down the hall.
So when I saw this article in the Times, my initial thought was that this isn’t news at all – and it makes perfect sense. Why would teenagers want to duplicate their efforts on a social network that most of their friends aren’t a part of when they already have Facebook?