Bloomberg News

Twitter Use Climbs to 13% of Adults Online in the U.S.

June 01, 2011

(Updates with comment from CEO in fifth paragraph.)

June 1 (Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc., the social-networking site that lets people share 140-character messages, is now used by 13 percent of U.S. adults online, up from 8 percent in November, as more older Americans embrace the service.

Among Twitter users who own cell phones, 54 percent have used the mobile devices to access the social-media service, according to a report today by the Pew Research Center. Twitter use has more than doubled since late 2010 among people ages 25 to 34, to 19 percent, and increased among adults ages 35 to 44, to 14 percent. Usage for those ages 55 to 64 doubled to 8 percent.

“It’s more in the public consciousness than it was probably six months ago,” Aaron Smith, an analyst with Pew in Washington, said in an interview. “Older people are kind of jumping in, taking a look at what’s going on. In general, it seems that Twitter is less confusing, for lack of a better word, than it was, say, this time last year.”

Twitter, competing with social-networking service Facebook Inc., is trying to improve its products amid management changes designed to attract more users and advertisers. In March, co- founder Jack Dorsey, who stepped down as chief executive officer in 2008, became executive chairman and head of product development. Dick Costolo, who helped introduce a new advertising service for companies on Twitter last year, became CEO in October, replacing co-founder Evan Williams.

“We’re growing like a weed,” Costolo said today at AllThingsD’s D9 Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. “The beauty of Twitter is that more and more people are flocking to it because it’s shrinking their world.”

The Pew report’s estimates of users was conservative, Costolo said, noting outside researchers fail to accurately track Twitter usage. Still, he declined to give specific active user numbers.

Twitter’s website is no longer where the “vast majority” of users reside, he said. There has been dramatic growth with Twitter for mobile devices, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

To woo more users, Twitter today unveiled a service that will enable people to more easily share photos, the company said on its blog. The social network also is updating its search service that aims to give more relevant posts and show related photos and videos.

As for advertisers, Twitter has 600 to 650, up from 150 in 2010, Costolo said. Advertisers, more than 80 percent of whom return to the site, have run more than 6,000 campaigns.

Ad sales on Twitter may more than triple to about $150 million this year, according to EMarketer Inc. Facebook brought in ad revenue of $1.86 billion last year, EMarketer estimates.

San Francisco-based Twitter, with 13 percent of adults, still trails overall social-networking adoption, including Facebook, at about 65 percent, Pew’s Smith said.

The Pew report also found that non-white Web surfers tend to use the service more than others. One-in-four African Americans online use the service compared to 9 percent for whites. In November, 13 percent of African-Americans used Twitter versus 5 percent for whites.

“Twitter has a done a really good job of inserting itself into the news and cultural zeitgeist,” said Debra Aho Williamson, a Seattle-based analyst for EMarketer.“It’s there when Osama Bin Laden dies. It’s there when the royal wedding takes place. It’s there when there’s all these big events. Every time these things happen, Twitter gets a bump in notoriety and usage.”

--With assistance by Joseph Galante in San Francisco. Editors: Lisa Rapaport, Jillian Ward

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net; Brett Pulley in New York at bpulley@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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