Shifting Twitter Demographics: Twitter Less About Teen Drama, More About World Politics


It’s largely assumed that teenagers rule the social media world. That might be true for Facebook and Instagram, but Twitter demographics aren’t quite as teen-friendly as many think.

Teenagers have become woefully underrepresented in the Twitter demographic at just 16 percent of all users. World politicians, on the other hand, just can’t seem to get enough of it, according to Digital Daya. The media management consulting firm recently conducted a study of Twitter users and found that a staggering 123 out of 146 world leaders are now tweeting about politics and world affairs.

President Barack Obama is the most followed world leader on Twitter, outstripping the second-place head of state, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who had only 3.8 million followers to Obama’s 24.6 million (as of December 2012). President Abdullah Gul of Turkey, Queen Rania of Jordan, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of Russia rounded out the top five.

So, why is it that presidents and prime ministers are more likely than teenagers to have Twitter accounts? A survey of about 10,000 teens by a 15-year-old Morgan Stanley intern provided a number of different answers, with the most popular response being that the microblogging site is “lame.” Of course, that doesn’t tell anybody much. The next question is naturally, “Why is Twitter lame?”

The less popular answers clarify that teens dislike Twitter because it doesn’t offer them any functionality that they don’t already get out of Facebook. After all, teens are more interested in communicating with their friends than they are about broadcasting messages to the world at large. Twitter doesn’t provide a good platform that allows people to connect and create meaningful conversations, something that teens practically obsess over.

But Twitter serves in its role as a digital soap box rather well, even if teens couldn’t care less about it. Twitter has become so successful because it allows companies and politicians to stand on their soapbox and share ideas and links with the world.

The popularity of world leader Twitter accounts could provide content marketers insight into the potential strengths and weaknesses of Twitter. For one, it suggests that people are using Twitter because they want to hear digital sound bites. But as a social media website, Twitter is remarkably one-sided in that it broadcasts messages to the world while tweeters receive only a fraction of information from their followers.

The fact that world leaders’ Twitter accounts are so popular also suggests that users are willing to accept tweets made by representatives. Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez have better things to worry about than tweeting, and everyday people understand that. Twitter users are willing to align themselves with an idea or the person behind the idea, even if all the tweets are coming from some anonymous representative rather than the real deal.

This is reminiscent of similar trend: people are more willing to trust CEOs who tweet than CEOs who don’t. It seems that within Twitter demographics, users are more than willing to follow the figureheads of their favorite companies and political parties.

For content marketers, these shifting demographics suggest that Twitter users are becoming more and more interested in the “who” behind the message. If this continues, we could see a future wherein corporate Twitter accounts crumble beneath the popularity of CEO accounts. In fact, it might already be happening. Compare Bill Gates’s 9.2 million followers against Microsoft’s 388,000 followers.

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