(This post originally appeared on Inc.)
Twitter uses said this. The President tweeted that. Kanye tweet something else. Twitter’s growing, Twitter’s failing. Twitter is toxic. Twitter is free speech. Twitter’s amazing. Twitter’s horrible. Twitter, Twitter, Twitter, Twitter, Twitter!
Make no mistake, Twitter has its uses. You can go there to get news and information (and some of it’s even real). You can see what your favorite celebrity is up to. You can laugh at hilarious memes and jokes. You can commiserate with fellow @phillies fans like me when another save opportunity is blown. You can argue politics with complete strangers.
That’s fun. But should you be devoting your company’s time and resources to the social media platform? Despite what some marketing experts may say the answer is likely no. Maybe the big brands get ROI. But Twitter is not a real place for a typical small or medium-sized business. And there’s data to prove it. That data comes from a survey of about 1,500 adults in the U.S. that was conducted in January and February 2019 by the Pew Research Center. The most significant takeaways prove my point that Twitter is an awful place for most businesses.
For starters, researchers found that only 22 percent of U.S. adults actually use Twitter (so keep that in mind the next time a news or opinion writer uses Twitter as a main source for theirs or “public reaction” point of view). The survey also found that the median user only tweets twice per month and the typical median age of a user is 40, as compared to the U.S. median age of 47.
What’s even more startling is that a mere 10 percent of Twitter’s users make up about 80 percent of the tweets! And if you want to get political, the community’s user base skews left, with 36 percent identifying themselves as Democrats even though 30 percent of all U.S. adults do the same (only 21 percent of Twitter users say they’re Republican as compared to 26 percent of all U.S. adults).
None of this surprises me.
My company sells services and products to other, mostly small and medium sized businesses. I’m out and about talking and visiting them at their offices all throughout the week. Believe me when I say that a whopping zero of them are on Twitter during the day. They have better things to do like…well…run their businesses. Many have them likely have a Twitter account and it wouldn’t surprise me if they check it out once in a while out of boredom while they’re waiting in line at the supermarket or toughing out a dinner with the in-laws. But few, if any, of my company’s 600+ clients are leaning heavily on the platform as a business tool.
Twitter says that it has 330 million “Monetizable Daily Active Users” around the world, a number that’s down 6 million from a year ago, mainly due to the company’s efforts to clean up fake accounts. So who are these users? Anecdotally, I’m betting they’re mostly members of the media (like me), celebrities (not me), politicians, trolls, pundits and others looking for a place to engage with others who will either agree with their political opinions or join together with them to harass someone who doesn’t. These are not your B2B customers.
If you want to really enjoy Twitter, then join a live-tweet #gameofthrones conversation during the next episode (people there are hilarious and helped me avoid a nervous breakdown during the Battle of Winterfell). Or follow a couple of comedians like @JimGaffigan and @billburr (Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) also has a few gems now and then). And pay attention to some reputable news sources like @reuters and of course @inc. It’s also a great place to visit if you think your Internet’s down, or if there was an earthquake in your area or you want to complain to an airline.
Otherwise, don’t waste your company’s limited resources on Twitter. There are plenty of other better places to go to find customers.