Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

Who is Twitter for?

twitterclouds Commenter Dkzody responded to my presentation for the Bronx Youth Journalism initiative with this tidbit about her high school students:

My students do not like twitter because they see it as a tool for old people. They text all the time and see no need to be limited to 140 characters. They also think it’s just people talking about what they are doing at the moment. I have to laugh because that is what they are doing when texting.

Twitter vs Txt

Twitter allows people to send short messages to other people via web app, phone. Text messages allow people to send short messages to other people via phone (and sometimes web app).

The major difference is that with Twitter one is usually broadcasting to many people, whereas text messages are often personal and directed toward one person.

Is that the aspect of Twitter that these students object to? Or is the usefulness curve for Twitter just too high?

Why Not Twitter?

The usefulness curve on Twitter is pretty darn steep. You have to sign up, find some people to follow, search for interests, follow more people, and just sort of leave it running in the background for a while before it begins to make sense.

No wonder Nielsen Online reports

Apparently more than 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return the following month and pre-Oprah more than 70 percent of Twitter users failed to return to the site.

I know a lot of people who still say “Twitter is stupid, it’s just Facebook status updates.” Well, if Facebook status updates were this good, I wouldn’t need Twitter, now would I?


I don’t know how many of Dkzody’s students have actually tried Twitter. But I do know that a lot of negative opinions about Twitter come from perception.

Is Twitter a micro-blogging service? Is Twitter a social network? Is Twitter just Facebook updates? Why am I telling Twitter what I’m doing?

I have trouble answering the questions I get from people who don’t understand the utility of Twitter, because Twitter is what you make it for yourself. For me, it’s all of the above, and more.

About this perception that Twitter is for old people…what do you make of that?