Aug 23, 2009

To the Data User: Caveat Emptor

Last week a few reports were released that can help shed some light on teen Twitter behavior.

[begin rant] You likely heard about the Morgan Stanley [rubbish] "report" written by a precocious fifteen-year-old intern from their London office. It's been stuck in my craw since it's post-release media flurry. No disrespect to the young man who solidly reported the experiences of he and his mates, but the ah-ha frenzy of corporate boardrooms and media belies that every observant parent of teens already knew what their kids do. [end rant]

Anyway, among the "findings" in the report--and one I have been arguing about--is that teens don't use Twitter because they are limited by limited cell phone use and texting.

Last week, Pew released a study on teens and cellphone use.
  • 71% of the people between 12-17 have cell phones. The percentage jumps to 85% for 16 and 17 year-olds.
  • Use is up from 63% in 2006 and almost catches teens up to the 77% of adults with cell phones.
  • Almost 40% send text messages DAILY.
  • Three-quarters of the 18-29 year olds text daily. (Pew Wireless Internet Use)
So, looking at the data, it doesn't seem that there is a huge lack of access to cell phones or text messaging that would limit the use of Twitter for teens.

THEN, there is the idea that it's important to tweet from your cell phone.

Read Write Web reported, also last week, that Twitter users are most likely to use the Web, not a cell phone, to share their tweets.
[U]pdating your status online via is still the dominant way that most people use Twitter, with 65% of tweets attributed to this method....Besides the web, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of Twitter updates, the second most popular way to update is via text message. However, with 6% of tweets sent, this method only accounts for 1/10th as many tweets.--Read more on Read Write Web.
Data shows that text messaging from phones is not preferred by Twitter users, period. Since more than 90% of all 12-17 year olds are online, more than any other age group, teens have at least the same access to the Twitter web interface as any other Twitter users.

So, the data does not support that dismal teen tweeting is "caused" by the lack of access to technology. It's more likely that they simply are not interested in Twitter

"So," you ask, "why did you go here? Taking us on this trail for a little tidbit of clarification on a fairly small topic?"

Two reasons. First, it's critical that folks working on innovation and technology make decisions based on data, not just fashion. And, second, it's imperative to take a hard look at the data sources. We need to carefully look at the data and assumptions and get past the hype, whenever we can. And not pass on the hype.

[Okay, and thirdly, because I was right and now there's nothing stuck in my U-Mich SRC craw. The benefits of being the blog owner.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

I hope that you will read and comment, ask questions and make suggestions. I just ask that you simply stay on topic, respect other people’s opinions, avoid profanity, offensive statements, illegal content, and other unpleasantries. Since this is my personal blog, I reserve the right to delete any comment.