Earlier, the Pew Research report concerning Twitter users hit the wires, and it was an awfully revealing look at how many people in the United States use Twitter. It also revealed the racial breakdown of these American users, and the information revealed could be surprising to those who don’t keep an eye on Twitter’s daily breakdown of content.
As the lead graphic reveals, many of Twitter’s daily users are of the non-Caucasian variety. Mashable spelled it out for those who don’t follow graphs and charts:
Twitter adoption is also higher among non-white Internet users, proportionately speaking. A full 25% of online African Americans and 19% of online Hispanics use Twitter, compared to 9% of whites.
African Americans and Hispanics are also more active on the service; an impressive 10% of African Americans and 5% of Hispanics in the survey say they use Twitter on a daily basis, compared to 3% of whites.
While looking for an explanation of why these numbers are higher in the African-American and the Latino communities, Stowe Boyd offered this as a potential explanation:
Perhaps most intriguing is the demographic gap: 25% of African-Americans and 19% of Hispanics use the service, compared with 9% of Non-Hispanic Whites. Perhaps linked to the use of entertainment and cultural leaders?
The bolded section offers an interesting perspective, because if Boyd’s theory is accurate, it indicates we’re still a nation of sycophantic trend followers, regardless of how dark or light our skin is. Another writer, Tumblr Greg Battle, dives a little deeper and looks at the marketing of mobile devices to these communities; but first, he makes this interesting observation:
…there’s been reports that African Americans account for 25% of all U.S. Tweets in terms of volume while being only 13% of the population. This last fact can be seen anecdotally when witnessing the pervasive number of urban themed hashtag memes.
As I’ve said previously, Twitter is the black 4chan.
As for reasons why this is, Battle discusses the digital divide in relation to Internet adoption. White users have had access to the Internet longer than the communities Battle is referencing, giving them ample opportunity to enjoy the anonymity the Internet offered back before the explosion of social media:
most of the internet’s usage growth occurred in private, where people tried on identities, utilized pseudonyms, connected with strangers, consumed the unthinkable, and engaged in fantasies in a world that began and ended at the dial tone.
The divide Battle discusses meant adoption in lower-income communities was much slower than in suburban communities. However, the explosion of the smartphone in terms of popularity has broken down the the digital divide:
Beepers, Motorola 2-Ways, Sidekicks, Blackberrys and now smartphones bridged this privacy gap, allowing urbanites to enjoy in device driven fantasy. It’s from this you get beeper codes, technology as fashion accessory, and friend/follower accumulation as proxy for social proof. If it worked for suburban doctors, it also worked for the urban street pharmacists and those who postured as either one.
In fact, the smartphone industry, which gave increased Internet access to non-white American users, has changed the way they market their devices, all in an effort to attract the “urban” user:
So, the dirty secret of the mobile phone and app industry is that African Americans (and Hispanics, females, and southerners demographically according to PEW) are a leading indicator for mainstreaming mobile social features. There’s a reason why carriers created AMP’d and Boost Mobile instead of Skinny Jeans or Fixie+Facial Hair Mobile…
Case in point, it’s pretty clear Boost Mobile isn’t marketing to the Wall Street/corporate types with the following commercial:
Do any of these observations make you look at social media use an differently? Do such marketing attempts like the Boost Mobile 4 Genie help or exacerbate an issue of “you’re nobody unless you own a smartphone and are using it to tweet and Facebook?”