Are Young People Abandoning Twitter?

Image via The Next Web

Young people love social media. But why does this not extend to Twitter?

You could begin, I suppose by defining ‘youth.’ I am taking our ‘youth’ to be people from the age of roughly fourteen to twenty. Generation Z, centennials, the future of our lovely home planet—some of whom helped to elect a President Trump. 

While excess social media use is perhaps one of the main things that define our generation, why isn’t Twitter being used to the degree of other platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram? Is it that Twitter does not allow us to boast our flawless makeup with pictures?

Is it an outdated (relatively) and “boring” concept? Or is a one-hundred and forty word limit simply not enough to convey our deep, philosophical sentiments to the world?

Sorry hipsters, you’re going to have to describe that avocado toast within that word limit. Now that we can post a picture or GIF with the word limit what could the problem possibly be?

Maybe now that we can, Twitter has begun to resemble other platforms making it uninteresting or a mere imitation of any other platform. Is Twitter no longer for thoughts relevant to events happening worldwide but only now dedicated to “memes.” Its stream has begun to resemble that of Facebook.

Most importantly, the withdrawal of young people from Twitter is backed up by the numbers. A Pew poll last year found that Twitter is one of the least used social media platforms among young people, with only 36% of Americans between the ages of 18-29 using Twitter, compared to a whopping 88% that use Facebook.

The same poll actually found LinkedIn, a tool rarely associated with young people, to be almost as popular as Jack Dorsey’s brainchild of Twitter within this age range. A slightly older survey also found Twitter lagging behind in frequency of checking in (36% of users daily check in, nearly half of Facebook’s 70% and still significantly less than Instagram’s 49%).

That being said, Twitter is still important for many millennials. Despite a small jump in users and investor confidence, user growth has been somewhat anemic over recent years with this demographic, though this is likely because most social media sites have been having relatively slow growth. As of 2013, 89% of internet users between the ages of 18-29 are already on social media, and the potential for growth is only so much. It is clear, however, that Twitter is not poaching any users from its competitors.

Some of the primary motivators for using social media is to stay in touch with their friends, share opinions, and network with others; Twitter loses quite badly to its competitors in all of these fields. Yes, people want to read about the news, but apart from November 8th last year, I cannot remember a time in recent years where people were waiting on the edge of their seats for breaking news, where Twitter has its advantage.

So, should Twitter evolve and “get with the times?” I would say no. Twitter has carved out a niche that works quite well for it. Making Twitter the next Facebook or Instagram simply won’t work, since the market is already so saturated. Twitter is not a minor platform by any stretch of the imagination, but let’s be clear that it isn’t exactly the giant with youngsters that many people think it is.

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