Die-hard Twitterers are accustomed to feeling like they're at or near the bleeding edge of technology. Little wonder, then, that technophiles can't resist debating reports that it's older users who are fueling Twitter's growth--even if, as everyone likes to point out, the original story is over a month old. In early July, a 15-year-old intern sent shockwaves through the Web by declaring that "teenagers do not use twitter" in a report for Morgan Stanley.
So why has the story still sparked debate? On the one hand, commentators such as Henry Blodget have been asking lately whether Twitter is doomed as a long-term business if the younger generation isn't joining. On the other, there's the question of whether it makes any sense to measure the success of a product by its adoption by teens.
Why are teens are ditching Twitter?
- Childhood Rebellion, says Rex Hammock at Rexblog. "All together now: Teenagers don't use Twitter because everyone they care to talk to has Facebook. And besides, their parents use Twitter. Thus it was. Thus it is. Thus it will be."
- Too Few Colors, Too Much Work, says Twittercism. "And Twitter likes it when you make an effort. It doesn't matter if you're a brand, a guru, a single mom, or some guy living out in the woods with a laptop. If you don't have anything to say, people stop paying attention."
Does it matter?
- Yes, Twitter's Too Impersonal says David Jeyes at Tech Blorge. "The problem is that Twitter isn't about connecting with people. On Twitter everyone is a blogger, social media expert or consultant and they're all there to self-promote...If Twitter is replacing commercials and not emails or text messages, it's not going to replace these fundamental ways of communicating."
- No, the Web's Grown Up, suggests Stan Schroeder at Mashable. He explains, "While teenagers aren't exactly all over Twitter, one can argue that they use it just as much as other social networks...It's not so much about Twitter; it just may be that the internet is growing up."
- No, Adults Have the Power, says Frank Reed at Marketing Pilgrim. "It's the older folks with jobs and more mature salaries that have true buying power. As Twitter looks to make money at some point this century it is likely a comfort to know that their users are those who can buy things rather than just talk about them."
- No, Twitter Has a Unique Market, argued Henry Blodget in a well-timed post yesterday in the Business Insider. "Facebook and Twitter are addressing slightly different markets--which are not mutually exclusive...Unlike 'Friendster' and 'MySpace,' Twitter is already a verb. It's is going to have to work hard to blow that one."
One thing everyone can agree on? The New York Times's obsession with the 140-character service is beginning to strain.