Do you Twitter?

Posted on April 11, 2014 by Eleanor McKenzie
Woman reading on an iPad

It usually happens when Arsenal is playing: the team is losing and Him Indoors is turning the air blue. Then he turns to me and says: “Tweet that Arsene Wenger and tell him he needs to buy a striker. Oh, and do something about the defence.” He doesn’t say it quite as politely as I’ve expressed it here, but there’s as much chance of Le Professeur reading my tweet as there is of Tony Adams returning to the Arsenal back four.

It’s not just teen spirit

He refuses to have any social media accounts—apart from LinkedIn—on the grounds that they’re a waste of time. LinkedIn is allowed because it’s for business purposes: the social media equivalent of a Dot Cotton medicinal sherry. He certainly isn’t representative of the 50+ crowd, who are, according to recent research, flocking to social media sites. In fact, we’re the fastest growing group of social media users, even if we’re playing catch-up with the 18 – 29 year olds.

Dedicated followers of Facebook

Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform with the over 50’s. Pew, an American research company discovered that 57% of internet users in the 50-64 age group and 35% of internet surfers who are 65+ use Facebook. The main reason many 50+ people use FB (as regular users call it) is to keep in touch with friends and family. More often than not these days, families are scattered around the globe and Facebook is an ideal place to share photos and videos of children and grandchildren on the other side of the world, for example.

Twitter isn’t for twits

Facebook is a starter platform. It’s not as daunting as Twitter for social media beginners. The statistics reflect that Twitter has only 10% of 50-64 year olds and 2% of the 65+ gang. This makes sense to me. I ask myself: if I didn’t want to promote myself as a writer, would I use Twitter? Probably not, is the answer. Of course, many people use Twitter to follow celebrities and find out what they’re up to. Indeed, Boy George somehow got slipped into my Twitter “following.” I’ve always been a fan!

Figures from the Twitter sphere

Here are some Twitter statistics: As of January 2014 there were almost 646 million Twitter users, and 135,000 users join every day. There are 58 million tweets per day and here’s a really interesting statistic: 40% of Twitter users never tweet; they just watch other people’s tweets. I’m quite shocked by that level of curtain twitching!

The 50+ influencers

Despite the statistic suggesting that the 50+ group prefer Facebook to Twitter, there are some very influential people who’ve passed their 50th birthday on Twitter. The Daily Telegraph compiled a list of the Top 60. Love him or hate him, Simon Cowell has nine million followers, while Richard Branson and Lord Sugar can only scrape together around 3.5 million each. There are a few women on the list: domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson has over half a million followers and Labour MP, Diane Abbott was the first women to appear on the 50+ Twitter influencers list.

Following for fun

I highly recommend dipping into the Twitter sphere and putting your thoughts out there in 140 characters. But, if you prefer to be one of the 40% who prefers to read other people’s tweets, I suggest you follow Daphne Egghead for a bit of fun. If you do feel like “Twittering” the Arsenal manager, remember that there are a lot of humorous spoofers in the Twitterverse: you may have trouble finding the real Arsene Wenger.

by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.