As Twitter has gained popularity over the past few months, many institutions have struggled with the question: Is Twitter a waste of my time? I believe there are two further questions that are the cause for this questioning of Twitter and by answering these questions, you will be able know if Twitter is a waste of your time.
Is my audience really on Twitter?
Will Twitter be around in a year?
Any effort in social media is about engaging your audience and communicating with them. Why would you focus your time and energy trying to communicate with your audience on a platform that is foreign to them. I came across a company that many of you may have heard of, Quantcast. They provide traffic, demographics and other information pertaining to websites. Below is a chart outlining the demographics of Twitter (see the complete report).
For the purpose of this post, I will pull out the age demographic. For most colleges, the age range for prospective students is 18-34 – or thereaabouts. As Quantcast shows, the largest age demographic of Twitter is 18-34. So if your age demographic was indeed 18-34, would you be wasting your time with Twitter – No.
Well, even if some or all of your target audiences are on Twitter today, it may not be around in a year. This is a little more difficult to address. Gregg Stewart at Search Engine Watch had an interesting blog post which provided some critical insight. Check out an excerpt below:
According to Nielsen, Twitter was the fastest-growing member community in the past year, seeing a 1,382 percent growth in the number of unique visitors from February 2008 to February 2009.
Although Twitter is experiencing explosive user growth, it’s finding challenges in keeping its users. This week Nielsen revealed that more than 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return the following month after signing up. It should be noted that this is often common of viral growth and social platforms like MySpace and Facebook, which have experienced high churn numbers in their early days as users tried the service and then waited until they found relevance in the developing community or content. Make no mistake, users like the one-to-many broadcasting stage that twitter provides.
For me, this was a sobering insight. Can Twitter sustain its rapid growth? Greg mentions that what Twitter is experiencing is common of viral growth and that it actually was also experienced by Facebook and MySpace in their early days.
So is Twitter going to super-nova and implode on itself – No. I think it will evolve and become refined, but as Facebook and MySpace have survived, we will see Twitter around for some time still.
So to return to the title of this post, is Twitter a waste of my time? Take your internal information on your target audiences and compare it to the demographic usage from Quantcast. If your audience is there, it won’t be a waste of time.