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13 Aug

A colleague recently told me that African-American women are the #1 users of Twitter.
I have to say I was surprised. And curious. So I went looking for the data to back this statement up, and here’s what I found:

  • More women than men are on Twitter. Women comprise 52 or 55% of tweeters, depending on your source. Here, I’m citing DigitalSurgeons (http://www.digitalsurgeons.com/facebook-vs-twitter-infographic/) and Quantcast (http://www.quantcast.com/twitter.com#!demo), respectively.
  • Quantcast reports that whites are tweeting by far the most at 67% with African-Americans and Hispanics trailing behind at 17% and 12% of users, respectively.
  • However, African-Americans tweet 1.84x more than they use the total internet, and Hispanics tweet at 1.29x their total internet usage, whereas whites and Asian-Americans tend to use Twitter less than they use the total internet.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project backs Quantcast’s findings up with their own poll, reporting:

Non-white internet users continue to have higher rates of Twitter use than their white counterparts; indeed, the Twitter-adoption gap between African-Americans and whites has increased over the past six months. In November 2010, there was an eight percentage point difference in Twitter use between African-American and white internet users (13% for blacks vs. 5% for whites). By May 2011, that gap was 16 percentage points — 25% of online African-Americans now use Twitter, compared with 9% of such whites. African-American and Latino internet users are each significantly more likely than whites to be Twitter adopters. Even more notable: One in ten African-American internet users now visit Twitter on a typical day — that is double the rate for Latinos and nearly four times the rate for whites (http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2007/twitter-users-cell-phone-2011-demographics).

So while African-American women aren’t the largest group of Twitter users, they may, in fact, be the #1 users in terms of sheer volume of tweets they generate.

Why do I, a non-tweeter, care? Because it’s a different profile for internet users than the pop cultural stereotype, and because the tech industry isn’t notorious for being African-American female led, populated or even focused (I posted this before as one lens on race in the tech industry: http://www.onlineitdegree.net/is-tech-racist/).

I’m curious what it is about Twitter that speaks to African-American women as a group: how its interface and functionality meet and facilitate their needs and norms. Conversely, I’m curious about how Twitter doesn’t really serve Asian-Americans–and what social media platform, if any, might elicit more Asian-Americans voices out in the e-verse?

Fundamentally, what these trends evidence is that there’s always an audience for a service, and it’s almost never equally “everyone.” And it’s exciting to think about how a proliferation of ways people can connect and speak up doesn’t just mean profit for companies: it can mean greater voice–and ultimately inclusion–for different groups.

**Thanks to MB for the information.

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