Research

Defining what makes Twitter’s audience unique

By Cartier Stennis
Thursday, 8 November 2018

Twitter is ‘what’s happening.’ It’s the place where people go to see and participate in the conversation about nearly everything that’s going on in the world. This behavior has prompted us to look deeply at the Twitter audience -- to understand what are the unique, defining characteristics of this audience given their on-platform behavior.

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So we conducted a holistic, multicountry study in 2017 to unify what we’ve come to know about Twitter’s audience from various studies over the years.¹

The results were fascinating, as they were largely consistent across the globe: Twitter’s audience operates in a receptive mindset when using the platform, and the audience is also highly influential across a vast array of topic categories.

However, this blog post will largely focus on the findings from the US portion of the study.

1. An audience at its most receptive on Twitter

Consumer attention is perhaps one of the most scarce resources facing advertisers today. It’s no longer sufficient to simply try and reach the right audience; that audience must also be receptive for ads to be effective. For example, in 2016, we conducted research to understand what Twitter and other platforms uniquely offer their users in the UK.² Unsurprisingly, we found that Twitter uniquely provides its users the opportunity to discover what’s happening in the world. That functional purpose translates into Twitter users operating in a different mindset when they’re on the platform compared to other online environments.

 

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In particular, the act of discovery, the predominant way in which the audience uses the platform, puts them in a receptive mindset, meaning that information is stored in their long-term memory more effectively. This is particularly important for advertisers, as academic literature shows that long-term memory encoding relates closely to purchase intent.

Our most recent audience study delved into discovery and found that Twitter users are natural explorers. Compared to the general online population:

  • They are more likely to discover new things (82% vs. 71% for the online pop.)
  • They are more open-minded (81% vs. 74%)
  • They also like to be the first to try new things (59% vs. 41%).

2. Twitter’s audience is valuable for its influence

Twitter users are hugely influential. A previously Twitter-commissioned study in the UK³ interviewed friends of Twitter users (without them knowing why their friend had been selected for the research). We found that 3 in 4 of them said that a Twitter user is the first person they look to for advice when they want to learn more about a topic, and 9 in 10 of them said they had changed their opinion on a purchase based on advice from their Twitter-using friend. Twitter’s audience is influential far beyond Twitter, which is of great value to brands.

In this study, we went one step further. We wanted to understand how universal the Twitter audience influence was, beyond what we observed in the UK. More specifically, we wanted to find out whether Twitter users were influential, regardless of geography, age, gender, or topic.

What we found was that Twitter users in the US (and across the globe) are also influential across the vast majority of demographics and topic category.

 

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Furthermore, we found that Twitter users love to share content they see on Twitter, on and off the service. In fact:

  • 78% of US Twitter users like to give their opinion about things they’re knowledgeable about or interested in (vs 66% US online population)
  • 55% of US Twitter users share things they’ve seen on Twitter with others offline (by showing them their phone screens)

 

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3. Twitter’s users and brands

When it comes to brands, Twitter users are demanding consumers, who want quality and responsiveness, and they strongly reward brands that make the effort.

The study found that Twitter users are willing to pay more for quality products (66% vs. 58% for online pop.) and to save time (54% vs. 42% for online pop.).

They are also more brand conscious, choosing brands that fit the best with their values.

 

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4. So what does this all mean?

This study demonstrates how the Twitter audience is curious, leaned in and ultimately receptive. Combined with their influence, proclivity to share what they know, and loyalty to brands offering quality products in a way that align with their values, they are the perfect catalyst for any marketers campaign messaging.

 

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Footnotes:
¹Methodology: Research done in partnership with Kantar Media. Fieldwork done in December 2017. 1503 USA Internet users, 787 Twitter USA users
²Tapestry & Twitter, UK, 2016
³Starcom & Twitter, 2016

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@CartierStennis

Cartier Stennis

‎@CartierStennis‎

Head of Market Insights & Analytics, US