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It looks like Twitter can be carefully taught. According to the Pew Internet And American Life Project, internet users are becoming more comfortable updating their statuses online.

The report found that 19% of internet users polled say they use Twitter or another service to share updates. That's one in five internet users. And good news for marketers.

The study found that online status updating is on the rise. Twitter and other status services are most popular among those 18-24 polled by Pew. But usage is rapidly growing amongst differing age groups. Twitter usage nearly doubled from 19% in December 2008 to 37%. Those 25-35 are up 20 points to 31%, while usage among those 35-44 jumped 10 points to 19%.

Meanwhile, the median age of a Twitter user is now 31, and the media age for Facebook is now 33, up from 26 in May of last year.

Predictably, web surfers with a wireless mobile device are more likely to twitter. And those who own multiple mobile devices are even more likely to twitter.

But even more important than consumers' updating frequency is their tolerance to listen to other people's messages. Accordng to Susannah Fox, associate director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project and co-author of the report:

"It's a pretty interesting finding, if someone is building an audience online, to know that there are people who maybe never respond but are lurking and learning by subscribing to the feed."

Marketers are finding social media to be an increasingly fertile ground to spread their brand messaging, and increasing usage of real-time updates is a good thing for brands. Twitter's founders are clear on this issue.

Twitter is planning to launch paid accounts to businesses by the end of the year, and marketing is going to be a big part of how Twitter plans to make money down the line. CEO Evan Williams said Tuesday at the Web 2.0 conference:

“The reason we like the prospects of Twitter is there’s a lot of commercial activity on Twitter today, there’s a lot of brand marketers on Twitter, and it works. A lot of that is theoretically monetizable.”

If Twitter usage continues on a steady incline, it will be good for both the microblogging service and marketers. Says Williams:

“If we’re driving that value for businesses, we’re not that worried about extracting value for ourselves.

Image: Pew Internet

Meghan Keane

Published 21 October, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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