Modern Marketing Blog

Social Marketing | August 9, 2011

Why Teens Don't Use Twitter: A Teenager's Point of View

Today's post comes from Evan Cernea, a high school student who just finished up a stellar summer internship at Eloqua.

Teens are often the early drivers of social media. But in the case of Twitter, this young crowd seems to have been left behind.

According to Pew Research users, only 8 percent of online teens use Twitter. Compared to the fact that 45 percent of online teens are on Facebook, that number is miniscule. If Twitter wants to keep growing, it needs to reach out to this key demographic. What can Twitter do to appeal to teens?

Facebook and Twitter might both be social networking sites, but that is where there similarities end. Facebook is like going to an event with all of your acquaintances. You already have established connections with your friends. Twitter is more like going to a singles club. You’re not committed to anyone and don’t have a lot of time to talk, but you can establish connections based on related interests.

Teens care more about their friends. According to Princeton University, teens use social networking sites to maintain established connections. Twitter isn’t very conducive to these more direct connections.

Teens, like 16 year old Caroline C., don’t use Twitter because they “don’t see the point of broadcasting their message to people [they] don’t know, and it seems boring to read about the minutia of other people’s lives.”

But Claire L., 17, enjoys the fact that she can connect with other people beyond her group of friends. She feels that when she posts something on Facebook “there is pressure for it to get ‘likes’ or comments. Without that it is a worthless post.” However, on Twitter, she can post whatever she feels like without need of approval from her friends.

According to John Della Volpe, Managing Partner of SocialSphere and expert on millennials, “Teens seek feedback, conversation and dialogue - that's what Facebook and now Google+ are centered around.  Twitter is valuable, but it's still largely a one-way, medium.”

But clearly, there are some teens like Claire want to reach out to other groups of people and don’t necessarily want feedback from their friends. Though Twitter has made several changes, it still hasn't cracked the code. So what should Twitter do to satisfy teens like Claire and appeal to people who prefer Facebook?

Twitter needs to let users have the ability to limit communication to specific groups of people. This would allow users to control whom they share information with so that users could have ‘quieter conversations’ with certain followers.

Twitter should also implement a networking feature, where a user could join a network of their school or workplace. A feature such as this would help people establish connections with people they already know or want to know while already having something in common.

Google has already anticipated these advances with Google+ Circles and Networks. But Twitter has a unique advantage mimicking a text message. Though only 8% teens use Twitter, 66% send and receive text messages. With new Twitter features that allow for privatization and networking, and the ease of tweeting from a mobile phone, Twitter could outfox the competition and become the next big teen social media site.

Evan is pleased to start out his career at Eloqua as a summer intern. He's interested in business and marketing. When not editing video, blogging or creating team-building exercises, he's out learning how to drive.

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