Study: Twitter Users Are More Mobile

Twitter use is on the rise, and on the road. According to a report from Pew Internet & American Life Project released today, micro-bloggers using Twitter and similar platforms to update their status are likely to use wireless.

In December 2008, 11 percent of online American adults shared updates on Twitter or similar services, up from 9 percent in November, and 6 percent in May, according to the study.

The Twitter audience stays connected through Wi-Fi networks and mobile phones. “I call that the iPhone effect, applications that make it easy for people to take Twitter on the road. There are people who want to engage with other media,” said Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist at Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The study finds 76 percent of Twitter users access the Internet using a laptop, PDA, cell phone, or other mobile device. In contrast, 57 percent of those people online, but not on Twitter, have wireless Internet access.

Mobile connections allow for status updates at times previously not possible. “This ability to be mobile, it’s a two-way street,” Lenhart said. “It allows people to reach you, and allows you to stay in touch with people when you’re on the go. In many ways it’s a distillation of media we’ve seen. It distills it down to its essence and puts it into 140 characters or less.

Micro-bloggers are just as likely to consume other media as the average Internet user, but more likely to read or view it through a mobile format.

For instance, 60 percent of non-Twitter users and 76 percent of Twitter users are likely to read a newspaper online. Meanwhile, 6 percent of non-Twitter users and 14 percent of Twitter users read news articles on a cell phone.

The Pew study also provides this demographic portrait of a Twitter user:

  • The median age of a Twitter user is 31. That compares to a median age of 27 for MySpace users, 26 for Facebook users, and 40 for LinkedIn users.

  • Twitter users are slightly more racially and ethnically diverse than the U.S. population. “Most likely because they are younger — and younger Americans are a more ethnically and racially diverse group than is the full population,” the study found.

  • Thirty-five percent of Twitter users live in urban areas compared to 29 percent of all Internet users. Meanwhile 9 percent of Twitter users and those who update their status live in rural areas, compared to 17 percent of Internet users.

Twitter has yet to find a way to make money, as pointed out in this week’s New York magazine article, “How Tweet It Is.” Still there’s speculation that the company will begin charging businesses to use the service.

In recent months, brands such as British lingerie maker Agent Provocateur, Comcast, Home Depot, and Ford have begun using the service to stay in touch with consumers.

Pew’s study is based on a survey of 2,253 adults, 18 and older, including 502 phone interviews.

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