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April 9, 2009, 09:54 PM
The rapid ascent of Twitter is due in no small part to an unusual suspect in it's user base. The Baby Boomer.

I find the Twitter Boomer use to be a fascinating study on social network adoption. As a marketer one of my strengths is pattern recognition and prediction. I'm paid to know where people are headed and what trends are developing. If I were a gambling man, I wouldn't have put money on the advent of Boomer presence on a social network such as Twitter. Nobody did. Predictive patterns and statistics give us basic roadmaps that are most often incredibly accurate, but just like the sports saying goes (in reference to rankings and stats) 'that is why they play the games.'

In my early days of Twitter use I definitely recognized a high proportion of Boomers were my followers, but what I didn't have was any measured figures in the general Twitter user base to validate what I thought I saw. In times such as these I trust my intuition - my ability to thin-slice a scenario and 'understand it'. There sure are a lot of 'forty somethings' I would say to myself.

Nevertheless, the more I looked the more I began to doubt my senses. There couldn't be that many Boomers on Twitter, could there? It just never really happens this way. Early adopters of social media are usually a younger demographic. While the younger audience is certainly present on Twitter, it is a much smaller segment than usual. In fact, the Boomer adoption phenomenon wasn't isolated just to Twitter - overall social networking use increased by 59% year-over-year into early 2009.

I'm sure we'll begin to see various articles and opinions in retrospect as to why this phenomenon has occurred. Hindsight is 20:20. Nobody could have reasonably predicted it. And if anybody did, give me their contact information so I can have them look at my 401(k).

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