Social networking software

All Tweet This! Number of U.S. Twitter Users Jumps

The number of U.S. Twitter users jumped in the past year, increasing more than 50%, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

Pew Research found that 13% of online American adults now use Twitter. That's a big jump compared to the 8% who said they were using Twiitter in 2010.

The survey, based on telephone interviews of 2,277 adults, also showed that 18-to-29-year-olds use Twitter the most, with 18% reporting that they tweet and follower other Twitter users. The next most active age group is 30-to-49-year-olds; 14% of that age group is using Twitter.

"The overall growth number is impressive," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group. "I think a lot of people question whether anyone but teens would find value [in Twitter], but clearly they do. I think even adults now are finding ways to use it to enhance their lives and it has become part of pop vernacular."

Twitter has gotten a lot of attention in the last year for becoming increasingly relevant.

For most of its tenure, Twitter had been known as a fun tool where celebrities and average Joes tweeted about getting a great parking spot or finding a new favorite sandwich. Then Twitter began to take on new weight as users around the globe began using it to tweet about political uprisings , as well as natural disasters like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

However, while that has solidified Twitter as a useful online tool, Kerravala said he doesn't think that's necessarily what's driving Twitter's growth.

"Twitter has proven to be a fast and easy way to share your opinions," he added. "Blogging is too arduous. Tweeting is fast and simple. You can follow who you want, including a lot of celebrities. I think the fact people can follow Lindsay Lohan in jail means more to mainstream Americans than terrorist alerts. It's a sad statement of our society, but it's true."

The Pew Research study also showed that of all online adult blacks in America, 25% are Twitter users. It's 19% for Hispanics and just 9% for whites.

And half of everyone polled said they access Twitter from their mobile devices.

"I do see Twitter continuing to gain steam," said Kerravala. "There's a thing called the network effect where the value of a network increases exponentially with the number of nodes on it. The more people who are on Twitter, the more people exponentially it will attract."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com .

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