Gini Dietrich

Why Is Generation Y Not Into Twitter?

By: Gini Dietrich | June 29, 2010 | 
48

Guest blog written by Courtney Dial, the editor of the entertaining inspiration site Pizzazzerie.

According to a study by Pingdom, the average age of the Twitter user is 39 and more than 60 percent of all Twitter users are 35 or older. Why is Generation Y not into Twitter?

As a Gen Y’er myself, I have found Twitter useful both personally and professionally, but I’m in the minority. There are two main reasons I believe Gen Y’ers are not using Twitter:

* They have not yet discovered how to leverage the platform to build their personal brand.
* They’re not comfortable engaging beyond their existing social network.

Gen Y’ers feel that Twitter is just “Facebook status updates” so why not stick with Facebook? In other words, they find value in the additional features of Facebook such as photos, groups, and videos.

We also saw this with the popularity of MySpace backgrounds and themes. Millennials completely customized and branded their pages.

Similarly, Facebook allows you to brand yourself in a multi-dimensional way through not only short status updates about last weekend’s formal but also pictures and videos to go along with it.

Millennials have yet to find a way to create their  personal brand through 140-character dispatches. And not only that, they say they don’t care what random people are eating for lunch or wearing that day. They do care on Facebook, though.

The difference is pushing past their current social circle. As one friend said, “I only care what my friends are doing. On Twitter, it seems to only be celebrities.”

The merits of following celebrities aside, it takes time to build your following, but those who make the effort soon realize the value of the global network they are building.

Some recent graduates are embracing that type of approach. Samantha Ogborn, a recent University of Missouri graduate, said, “I think Twitter can be a valuable resource for anyone in any niche. It’s what you make of it. You don’t have to be in the business of social media to participate in Twitter. It’s just another medium for you to pursue your passion.”

So why should my generation hop on the Twitter train? Here are my top three reasons:

* Networking and career preparation – No matter what the industry, there are leaders and entrepreneurs on Twitter who you can easily connect to in a matter of seconds. You never know where it might take your career!

* Talk to companies directly – When listening to horrible hold music from a cable company one afternoon, I hung up, tweeted my frustrations, and received an instant response from a company rep who was able to take care of my problem!

* Stay current on news and trends – I have discovered so many local activities, new venues and great deals on Twitter. It’s an unbelievable news source, too.

Why do you use Twitter?

Courtney Dial  satisfies her love for marketing, PR, and social media through various freelance projects to assist businesses with their online marketing needs. She lives in Nashville, Tenn., where she enjoys cheering for her alma mater, Vanderbilt University, and finding any excuse to throw a party.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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48 Comments on "Why Is Generation Y Not Into Twitter?"

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Matt
5 years 10 months ago

I also think they are used to using texting as their one to one medium, and Facebook as their one to many medium. There isn’t any room to hire another tool, yet. We’ll see if Foursquare-like location networks supersede that need. Meaning, if they get to the point where they don’t use Twitter or Facebook to update location, but it all happens in network, then they might never find their way to Twitter.

Tom
5 years 10 months ago
I think once the stigma of “only celebrities use Twitter” dies down and we understand that there is more to Twitter than what Kim Kardashian had for lunch, they’ll begin to embrace it. As more and more people become mobile, it is likely that they’ll want to adopt something other than Facebook Mobile for status updates. I think a lot of Gen Y is simply too young to understand the power of Twitter. It’s an instant focus group of any topic, and news often breaks on twitter. Once Gen Y begins to use Twitter as a news beacon and a… Read more »
Mark
Mark
5 years 10 months ago

Something else to consider. Putting together a 140-character thoughtful microblog is not something that comes easily. It does require some reflection, concentration, and focus. That’s a tough one for a lot of Gen Y’ers.

Cliff Allen
5 years 9 months ago

I seem to recall an expression something like, “I wrote this blog post because I didn’t have time to compose a short tweet.”

Seriously, there is more “room” to be misunderstood in a short tweet — as evidenced by the CNN reporter who was recently fired because she couldn’t pack a few hundred words of emotions into 140 characters.

Rob Freeman
5 years 10 months ago
As a Millennial that just got into twitter at the recommendation of a PR professional, I would agree that both of your main reasons have merit. However, I would argue that your idea about Facebook’s features being the main sticking block is the real reason that many people our age don’t find Twitter interesting. We’re a generation that not only loves technology, but loves options and features, so a 140 character David will always lose out to the Goliath of options like Facebook. I also agree with Tom. Once Millennials grow up and start to see the various uses of… Read more »
Tom
5 years 10 months ago
Exactly. I feel like Facebook has more to offer people who want to know what their friends are up to (ie high-school and college more than professionals) on a daily basis, and a lot of Gen Y people are still in that stage. Twitter has much more pertinent information to someone who wants to know what others in their industry are up to. I find that a lot of my friends don’t really post much interesting info on facebook, but the people I’ve never met on Twitter always post amazing content. Basically, it’s easier and perceived as less creepy to… Read more »
Rusty
5 years 10 months ago

I have noticed that Twitter tends to have more of a professional or interest-driven focus, rather than a social one. It’s utilitarian, efficient, a little quirky, and is better for sharing information and useful tidbits, rather than socializing. My kids all tried it and abandoned it within a week. But all my work contacts are there.

Daniel Hindin (@danielhindin)
5 years 10 months ago
First of all, Courtney, great post and thanks so much for allowing us to publish it here! Second, I’ve been speaking up in favor the career angle for quite a while now to all my Gen Y friends. (I just miss the cut by two years!) In fact, I wouldn’t have the job I have now without Twitter. I met Gini about 1 1/2 years ago through Twitter. I’m not sure who followed whom, but I do remember our first conversation was about California wine. Gini is a wine lover and I used to live in California, and before you… Read more »
Laura Scholz
5 years 10 months ago
Great post, Courtney! I just spoke to two college classes last week and told them if they wanted to get a job in marketing and PR, they needed to be on Twitter. My interns and employees find me, not vice versa. It’s the best networking there is and like Dan said, you connect over wine or running or your favorite band, and then all of the sudden realize there’s a very important person at the other end of that Tweet. I met both you and Gini on Twitter and have learned so much from you! I’ve also found that while… Read more »
Courtney Dial
5 years 10 months ago
Thank you! Rob – I agree that the lack of options on twitter is not appealing to Gen Y. They can’t “brand” themselves by choosing groups to join, albums to upload, etc. Facebook allows for all of that personalization. Tom – I agree, it is definitely easier to follow industry leaders on twitter as Facebook is more commonly seen as a more personal connection. Laura – Thank you! I am so thrilled to have met so many amazing people on Twitter, including you. It is absolutely one of the best networking tools available. It is my hope that when Gen… Read more »
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[…] Destructive Spin, namely Courtney Dial, the editor of inspirational site Pizzazzerie. Her entry, Why Is Generation Y Not Into Twitter?, provided an intriguing perspective into why people under 35, according to Pingdom.com, tend to shy […]

Jenny Weigle
5 years 10 months ago

Excellent article and thank you for sharing it! I remember back a few years ago when the majority of my friends where “not joining that Facebook thing”…and now they at least have a profile. I agree that it will take time, but I still think my generation will come around. Perhaps getting used to the Twitter “language” is another barrier? All great points in this article, and it sparked even more great dialogue!

Melissa
5 years 10 months ago
I think you make some good points, Courney. A lot of my friends who do not use Twitter say the same things like, “Why would I use Twitter when I can just update my FB status?” However, my friends that do use Twitter are obsessed with it. It’s always a struggle to explain to someone the benefits of Twitter, but I feel like once you start using it, you’re able to figure it out eventually. Gen Y’s don’t want to take the time to learn it though. I like Twitter for it’s on-the-go capabilities and breif updates. Some people don’t… Read more »
Kelly Clay
5 years 10 months ago
Courtney – You make some really good points, and I have absolutely seen that in action when I look at the difference between myself and my sister, five years younger. Someone once told me “Facebook is for who you know, and Twitter is for who you want to know.” Gen Y (and those like my sister) are at a point where they need to “Brand themselves” (as someone else said) amongst those they currently know – to solidify their reputation. They do not need to market that rep yet and reach out to an unknown professional network to sell it.… Read more »
Jaym
5 years 10 months ago

(Background preface: 38-year-old former virtual reality developer. I don’t consider myself Gen-X, but rather part of the New Power Generation >__< you can always use Twitlonger when you just can't say it in 140 words.

Anyways, I haven't had any clue why the under 35 crowd has been so disinterested in Twitter, since I see it as so superior in design and accessibility to make it what YOU want it to be. This was an interesting explanation of some of the reasons why, so thank you for the insiight!

Jaym
5 years 10 months ago
Whoa! I broke my comment above. It’s all mushed together and makes no sense. =P (Missing about 3/4 of what I said!) Basically I was saying Facebook ended up being a high-school/college catch up device for me, and I never added anyone new because it was hard to find new people without seeking them out specifically, and because shy/introverts like myself find it very hard to have to ask someone to add you as a friend. Twitter allows a shy person like me to meet tons of people from all over the world by following them without the need for… Read more »
Ryan Collins
5 years 10 months ago
I was never into Twitter until recently launching my company (Happy On Vacation) where I needed to connect with a demographic completely outside of my network of friends. I started getting requests to follow certain companies out of nowhere. I then was intrigued to at least check them out and sometimes follow them too. This got me thinking. The more relevant people I follow within my target demographic, the better chance I have to expose my company to them without spamming. I have also found it to be better than googling when trying to find information or new blogs within… Read more »
Matt Cheuvront
5 years 10 months ago
The most important thing you’ve pointed out here? That you, and we, are in the minority. It’s very easy to get caught up in the “Social Media bubble” and be under the impression that ‘everyone is doing it’. But – as you’ve pointed out, everyone isn’t, we are the minority, and amongst the Gen Y community, we still represent that ‘early adopter’ phase. The benefits of Twitter have been great for me as well (they introduced me to you, Courtney, which led to us becoming both great friends and business partners – they introduced me to Gini, which led to… Read more »
Cristian
5 years 10 months ago

In terms of microbloggin I think http://www.plurk.com/ is more attractive to the Y Generation. More customizable, you win karma points and other stuff as well. A lot more engaging then Twitter. I guess Twitter seams to serious at times, to business oriented.

Astrid Nicole
5 years 10 months ago

What I’m taking away from this is that, knowing that my demographic target is the over 35 crowd, Twitter is the place to be. Going to keep up with Ms Dial’s work, though, to see what the younger crowd is up to.

Tim Jahn
5 years 10 months ago

Great thoughts here, Courtney. I think the most important point you bring to light is that tools are what you make of them. If some folks want Twitter to just be breakfast updates to them, that’s what it will be.

I think it’s up to each of us to use the tools as we see fit and get creative to see how we can truly harness them.

Look forward to more from ya!

Victoria Dunmire
5 years 10 months ago
I’m a Gen Y-er, and I’m completely on Twitter. I also do social media as a job, and find that the creative students at the school I work for do not understand the value of social networks for professional and personal branding. The biggest barrier to entry, though, that I see is that people my age are still at very early stages in their careers (within 5 years) and are probably still at the first job they got out of college, or through an internship. That frame of reference does not really see the value, or more accurately, the need… Read more »
Tim Brauhn
5 years 10 months ago
I think it’s cute what commenter Mark said up above: “Something else to consider. Putting together a 140-character thoughtful microblog is not something that comes easily. It does require some reflection, concentration, and focus. That’s a tough one for a lot of Gen Y’ers.” Maybe part of the reason that we are “behind” the curve with Twitter is because we see, in addition to celebrities, Twitter is also clogged up with GAZILLIONS of professional marketers like him – folks who are “awesome” at 140-character snippets. Shut up, Mark. Unless, of course, you are a Millennial yourself. In that case, I… Read more »
Molly
5 years 10 months ago

I completely agree. I think most people don’t realize what Twitter can do for them professionally. I got started on Twitter because I thought I should be on it. I didn’t really use it/ like it until I started reaching out to people that I didn’t know.

Traci Browne
5 years 10 months ago
Love this post. There’s a lot of talk in the event community about using twitter in events and the fact that a younger audience is not on twitter is always a source of frustration. As a producer and consultant to the professional events industry I love what you say about getting them on Twitter to help with their networking and career prep. Industry organizations can emphasize this to the younger generations and show them how effective it can be. You just hit the “What’s In It For Me” (that’s been eluding us for so long) nail on the head with… Read more »
Barry Graubart
5 years 10 months ago
Great post, Courtney. I’d add one more reason. Twitter is largely about information sharing. The professionals I follow on Twitter tend to have links in > 50% of their tweets. Most of us are “knowledge professionals” and the flow of news and information is a critical part of our workflow. For many Gen-Yers, earlier in their career, external information flow is less important (not the case for certain industries like media & PR of course). For most, early in their career, the information flow is internal – inside the organization. As you become more senior, you often spend more time… Read more »
Dan Larkin
5 years 10 months ago

I think Tom’s comment hits a key point: many in Gen Y are currently more focused on their existing social networks (high school, college, early career friends). As their view moves more broadly to those they do not know yet, but share interests with (whether industry, cause or recreation), Twitter becomes an effective and rewarding medium for generating new networks.

Mike Doyle
5 years 10 months ago

Because they haven’t grown up yet. When their careers get to the point where they need it to network, they’ll use it.

Betsy Munnell
5 years 10 months ago
Courtney–this is not only a wonderful and helpful post, but it generated terrific, thoughtful repsonses. I’m a boomer and former law firm partner, where I mentored young lawyers of many generations. The differences are many–and if I were more of a scholar I would like nothng better than to write my PhD on generational sociology. I rely heavily on social media in my new business (as a business development and career coach for lawyers and grsduating law students). And I work with millenials and Gen Ys with few exceptions, and to my great good fortune. I read your post and… Read more »
Gavin Head
5 years 10 months ago
Excellent post! I appreciate the insight directly from a Gen Y’er. I think this will help me communicate the benefits of Twitter better to my Gen Y’er clients and prospects- as well as to my own daughters. I plan on introducing Twitter and Lindkedin and other more business oriented social networks to them to help prepare them for life in the workforce after college. Even though they are just starting college, I want to give them a headstart so they will be completely acclimated to social networking for jobs and business by the time they graduate. I think your post… Read more »
Doug Stephens
5 years 10 months ago
Great article Gini. I think the two points you make about the need to push past your social network and the value of twitter for information and news are key. Like others, I’ve always relied more on Twitter as my professional information network and Facebook as my social community. I think there’s also an inherent confidence required to use Twitter as a branding tool. Within Facebook we brand ourselves by “association” with known brand names and people. On Twitter, we brand by “declaration” based on what we choose to share and focus our discussions on. I feel it takes more… Read more »
Elmar Schneider
5 years 10 months ago
Hey Courtney. Interesting Post with nice insides from a Gen-Y’ler. I think many of your generation are so used to Facebook (and Co.), that for many Twitter is hard to understand. But Twitter isn’t Facebook. And one of the most common mistakes I hear about Twitter, is those status updates. I do share a lot of information and communicate with “strangers” on Twitter, but first of all, I read, listen and find tons of interesting Information. If someone asks me what is Twitter, I tend to tell him “If you want to get to know Twitter: DON’T register…yet. Search for… Read more »
trackback
5 years 10 months ago
Adelina
5 years 10 months ago
Great post and I completely agree. Many Gen Ys don’t know how to use twitter to leverage who they are and how to use it as a network opportunity. Perhaps, Gen Ys don’t see value in either of those as its not in their reality – many are still starting off in their careers, wrapping up school and just the pure struggle of “finding yourself” clouds all the opportunities in Twitter and social media. As a Gen Y myself, I didn’t immediately embrace Twitter as a way of getting myself noticed. I started experimenting and now I’m really satisfied with… Read more »
fashion social
5 years 10 months ago

I saw this and had to write a response blog as a fellow gen y twitter user and online marketing manager I know its a load of nonsense its those the gen above us that can’t and won’t use twitter.
http://wp.me/pWPZ9-B

Jaime E.
5 years 10 months ago

I’m a Gen Y myself and I’m in the minority (as the OP have said). In my case, I use Twitter mostly for personal use, but I do also use it for quick news updates and the latest happenings. Indeed, most of my peers enjoy Facebook more because of its functionality, but some of us also do put Twitter into consideration. Twitter acts like a status symbol too, i.e., having many followers is par to being popular — something along those lines. To wrap it up, IMHO, Twitter is designed for mature and professional use, rather than for personal use.

Karlijn Fiesler
5 years 10 months ago
I would like to change the question: Which Gen Y is on Twitter? A few months ago we did research in Holland about how many students use Twitter. It appeared that 85% did not have a twitter account. The question is: How old were those students anyway? We just finished a new research and asked 2000 students about there social media habits. This time we divided them in three age groups, 18-21 year old, 21-23 and 23-26 year old. It turns out that of the first group, 20% added value to the use of Twitter when searching for jobs. In… Read more »
Courtney
5 years 10 months ago

I am 25. Gini is 27.

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Sean Thompson
5 years 10 months ago
Great points Courtney! One underused element is talking directly to companies. It helps the consumer, obviously, get their problems addressed. And, it provides jobs to people in the PR/marketing field, so as a PR pro, I’m happy about that! But the person on hold for an hour is silent, they can be ignored and only they will be offended. If a wronged customer tweets their displeasure, the whole world can see that the company isn’t addressing something, and there is a motivation to make it right in a very public way. The thing that still confuses me is, even if… Read more »
Karlijn Fiesler
5 years 10 months ago

@ Gini @Courtney ok jut to ease your minds, I’m 32 😉
So Courtney, according to my theory, you are just the right age!

Kinsey Durham
5 years 9 months ago

As a Gen-Yer myself, I agree with you. Most of my friends do not use Twitter at all. I have a Twitter account but have not gotten that into it. Facebook is still my #1 choice for networking and engaging in social media. Thanks to your advice tho I will definitely start using it more as a networking tool. Also what about Linkeden?

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[…] I hear all the time: It’s for the kids (which we now know, thanks to Courtney Dial’s guest post a few weeks ago, isn’t true), it takes too much time, you don’t care what people had for […]

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5 years 9 months ago

[…] all of my information in one news feed but I just couldn’t really get into it. I saw this article a few weeks ago and I remembered it today when we talked about twitter and professional networks. […]

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