Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on June 3rd, 2009

Is Twitter a Social Media for Grown-Ups?

Earlier this week, The Participatory Marketing Network (PMN), an organization that helps marketers transition from aggressive to participatory marketing, released study results showing Social Media usage by Generation Y consumers. An astonishing 99 percent of Gen Y consumers are active with a profile on at least one social networking site. However, only 22 percent reported using Twitter. PMN conducted the study May 2009 in coordination with the Lubin School of Business’ Interactive and Direct Marketing Lab at Pace University. 200 consumers between the ages of 18-24 participated in the study.

Twitter is all the buzz among the various industry mavens, but doesn’t seem to have penetrated the high school and college campuses as deeply as marketers would have liked. This does, however, make any marketer’s mouth water at the potential that has yet to be reached by the micro-blogging marketing vehicle. It is quite obvious that Gen Y has the appetite for social networking, but they haven’t completely embraced Twitter yet. The enormous opportunity to develop strategies to get Gen Yers actively on Twitter hasn’t escaped many marketers.

Of the 22 percent of the Gen Y consumers of Twitter:

- 85 percent follow friends

- 54 percent follow celebrities

- 29 percent follow family

- 29 percent follow companies

The last statistic should make any marketer overly optimistic. You can find more information from the study here.

For now, Twitter appears to be the Social Media for grown-ups. We all know that teenagers are hesitant to get involved in something their parents are excited about, like responsibility! Gen Y consumers are displaying all the behaviors that active tweeters are doing, but they haven’t made the transition yet. Maybe this is a good thing? Just like the kids who are embarrassed by having to ‘friend’ their mom on Facebook, maybe there are parents out there who aren’t ready for their kids to start following them.

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