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Last week the the boys from Twitter, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey, visited the talking heads in the mainstream media after Time Magazine acknowledged them in their list of 100 Most Influential People in 2009. In the same week, the Harris Interactive Poll released a report via Media Post that has a few interesting stats as well as a few negative statements that has lead me to believe that many marketers, agencies and some social media "experts" have Twitter all wrong.  As a matter of fact, I ponder if brands that are there and not tweeting relevant insider or expert information to their followers understand that they are at risk of damaging their brands.

Thanks to @ev, @biz and @jack's many interviews we have found a few facts that we can build on.

  • Twitter is not a social network. (you are)
  • Twitter is a a succession of chirps as uttered by birds.
  • Twitter allows you to tweet to people who are willing to follow you.
  • You are an influencer to those who follow you.
  • Twitter is a wonderful forum for real people, companies and brand people with influence to broadcast messages.
  • Twitter allows for asynchronous "relationships"

The Skinny From Harris:

  • 74% of those aged 18-34 years old
    have a Facebook or MySpace account but this quickly drops off the older
    one gets. Only 24% of those 55 and older have an account
  • 8% of 18-34 year olds use Twitter, 7% of those 35-44 use it, 4% of those aged 45-54 and just 1% of those 55 and older
  • Men
    and women use Twitter at the same levels (5% each), but women are more
    likely to have a Facebook or MySpace account (52% versus 45%)
  • Two
    in five people with a high school degree or less have a Facebook or
    MySpace account compared to 55% of those with some college and 52% of
    those with at least a college degree.

So while the mainstream media may have found Twitter, only 5% of American consumers are currently using it. That 5% are more highly
educated and potentially more influential in a general sense if for no
other reason than traditional media's embrace of Twitter.

Data from Harris:

Online Social Network Usage - By Age & Gender (All Online Adults; % of Age Group)

Age Group

Gender

Network Usage

Total

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Male

Female

Have a Facebook or MySpace account

48%

74

47

41

24

45

52

Update Facebook or MySpace account at least once a day

16

29

17

10

3

14

18

Use Twitter (Net)

5

8

7

4

1

5

5

  Follow people on Twitter

5

8

6

4

1

5

5

  Use Twitter to send messages

3

4

5

1

*

3

2

None of these

51

25

50

59

76

54

47'

Source: Harris Interactive, April 2009  Multiple responses allowed; * indicates less than 0.5%

Online Social Network Usage - By Education (All Online Adults; % of Group)

Education

Network Usage

Total

HS or less

Some College

College Grad+

Have a Facebook or MySpace account

48%

40

55

52

Update Facebook or MySpace account at least once a day

16

14

18

16

Use Twitter (Net)

5

3

7

6

  Follow people on Twitter

5

3

6

6

  Use Twitter to send messages

3

1

4

4

None of these

51

59

43

47

Source: Harris Interactive, April 2009  Multiple responses allowed; * indicates less than 0.5%

In my experience in creating new ideas for brands Twitter has proven to
help me reach influencers following me who are interested in specific topics such as
racing, music, the elections and movies. (there are many many more topics)

If brands are dedicated to "engagement" then they must also be dedicated to building a library of content in strategically relevant areas.  This content can offer influencer's a chance to passionately evangelize the brands value over time. Twitter is the perfect platform to begin using your brand as a filter.  Can you name a few brands that are using Twitter to generate new interest, traffic and response to their offerings?

If you have not done so, you should join Twitter and see for yourselves.

ON: The 5% That Actually Use Twitter via @jpenabickley