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. Additionally, Twitter use has more than doubled since late 2010 among people ages 25 to 34, to 19 percent from 9 percent, and increased among adults ages 35 to 44, to 14 percent from 8 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, D.C., 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.
“This is a good sign for Twitter; this is what Twitter needs,” said Debra Aho Williamson, a Seattle-based analyst for EMarketer Inc. “We’ve been saying for some time now that Twitter’s biggest problem is that it hasn’t grown as quickly in usage as Facebook has.”
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.
Still, the Pew report also found that non-white Web surfers tend 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,” Williamson said. “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.”
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