Midlife chatterers show they like to keep it short and tweet

The following is an article written by Murad Ahmed, Technology Reporter and featured in the British newspaper, The Times, today (Monday, April 13th) so for those that didn’t see it or are over in the US and elsewhere this is for you. (I’ve added in a few Twitter cartoons just for fun..)

Twitter appears to be the embodiment of youth culture with tech-savvy and fast-thumbed teens firing off short updates filled with abbreviations about their lives. But it turns out that the keenest users are the greying brigades of the middle aged.

More mature users, led by famous tweeters such as Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross and Sarah Brown, are the driving force behind the popularity of the site. New research shows that 45-54 years olds are 36 percent more likely than the average to visit the site, with figures from comScore, the internet market researchers, showing that the majority of the 10 million Twitter users worldwide are aged 35 or older.

Twitter Cartoon

Twitter is a social networking and “microblogging” site, where users post short updates – “tweets” of up to 140 characters via the website or a mobile phone. More than 3.5 million people signed up in the first two months of this year.

Celebrities such as Russell Brand and Jamie Oliver are avid users, while Barack Obama used it as a tool during last year’s presidential elections to talk directly and quickly to hundreds and thousands of followers.

Stephen Fry, 51, the actor and comedian whose tweets are followed by about 400,000 people, has become a leading advocate for the service. “I love how Twitter confirms all too often assaulted belief that most humans are kind, curious, knowledgeable, tolerant and funny” he wrote on his blog. (Is your Twitter page a blog in the traditional form? I’m not so sure)

Celebrity tweeters have pushed others towards the site “It’s the role model thing” said Richard Drake, 51, from London. “You see Stephen Fry and think, they’re doing it, so why can’t you?” You’re not teenagers, so you’re no longer following the crowd to the same degree perhaps. “But you think, well, he’s finding it interesting, there’s something happening there, and people my age are doing it.”

Twitter Cartoon
Other social networking websites, such as Facebook and MySpace have also seen an increase in the number of older people signing up in recent months. But the simplicity of Twitter has made it most popular with the golden oldies and 2o percent of all tweeters in Britain are over the age of 55, compared with 12 percent of all Facebook users.

However, it seems that the young are being put off by the increasing number of older users. “I do think there’s a feeling that, if your parents are doing it, suddenly it’s not cool any more” said Jamie Gavin, an analyst at comScore.

Ageing tweeters also said that whereas Facebook seemed to reveal every aspect of your life – something the young seem more at ease at doing – Twitter was less intrusive, and often is used by people at work. “I only Twitter professionally,” said Ian Williams, 41, an executive at a price comparison website. “For us, it’s just another communications tool. That’s the beauty of Twitter, if you decide something is not interesting or inane, you can stop following it. It’s just not invasive”Twitter Cartoon

Google Insights for Search

Hands up who’s heard of Google Insights for Search? My hand is staying down which as a discerning tech lover I probably shouldn’t freely admit? It had apparently launched last August though fact fans which in Google world is a long time ago. So what is it? Let’s essentially think of it as a stripped down version of your very own Google Analytics but for search. It’s actually pretty useful on getting a more detailed picture on what people are searching for, where and when.

Much like Google Trends, you can use Insights for Search to analyze search volume patterns over time, as well as related queries and rising searches. You can also compare search trends across multiple search terms, categories, geographic regions, or specific time ranges. Insights can help you can analyze everything from interest levels in rival football teams (I’ve chosen my home town team of Nottingham Forest Vs bitter rivals Derby County but you see how it works. Take note @tim_whirledge) Or maybe even the relative popularity of politicians? (In this case Barack Obama Vs Gordon Brown)

In the last few days, additional features have been launched that allow you to see what the world is searching for beyond Google Web Search, by adding new data sources including Google News, Image Search, and Product Search. The new Insights lets you break down search data in several ways. For starters, you can take a look at the rising News searches over the past 7, 30, or 90 days

You can also view the popularity of a given query across different geographies, from country-level down to individual metropolitan areas. For journalists and newspapers, this feature could be a useful tool to gauge interest levels in different subjects among a reader base.

For example, with the Formula 1 season coming back in to action at the weekend kicking off in Melbourne, Australia, I was curious to see where in the world interest in Formula 1 was highest. I initally thought it would be highest in Australia with all the mentions stemming from the fact that the first race is in Melbourne and everyone would be really excited about it. I was wrong. Australia was down in 8th place for regional interest. How did I find that out?

I tried a search for “Formula 1” and used the ‘Google Web Search’ filter over the past 7 days. Interest was found to be highest in Spain, passionate and vocal F1 fans, with Costa Rica and South Africa running closely behind as you can see on the map below:

Regional Split

Of course, Insights for Search can’t quite explain these search asymmetries, but they’re interesting to note nonetheless!

Interesting stuff I’m sure you may well agree. It’s not a revolution, more an evolution. It might just give you that bit more granular level of detail when you’re doing a search so for that, it comes highly recommended. Start exploring right away on the Google Insights for Search homepage or head on over to the Inside Adwords Blog to find out more.