Seniors Tweet in Smaller Numbers, But at Louder Political Volume

Seniors make up only a small sliver of Twitter’s user base, but their tweets hold far more political significance than those of the young whippersnappers who dominate the Twitterati.

More than half of all Americans age 65 and older are on the Internet, and though only 4% of wired seniors use Twitter, that group tweets most often about politics — and are by far the most likely demographic to vote — making their tweets both an important indicator and influencer of the opinions of likely voters.

A recent survey by Bluefin Labs of the social-media presence of 600 brands found AARP at #6, ahead of more youth-oriented brands like Subway and T-Mobile.  As Bluefin’s Crowdwire blog pointed out, the bump was all about politics.

“Speaking at an AARP conference in New Orleans, Romney running-mate Paul Ryan called for the repeal of the Obama health-care program, and was loudly booed. The social networks lit up, due partly to wide TV coverage of the story…

To make sense of the social response, we dug into the data. First, we looked at who made the comments, and found that among the groups commenting most frequently were people who watch network and cable news shows, and those who had posted previously about health-insurance – both pointing to an older demographic.

We then isolated comments specifically about Ryan’s Obamacare remarks and found that 43% were anti-Ryan, 22% were pro-Ryan, and 35% were neutral or unclassifiable.”

Crowdwire also pointed to the surge of social media commentary on a recent episode of 60 Minutes featuring interviews with both Obama and Romney.  That episode triggered 33,000 comments on social media — well over ten times the norm of 2,700.  While the average viewer age for the broadcast (58) was slightly younger than normal, Bluefin confirmed that the most active commenters were grandparents, showing that the spike in social media commentary was largely the work of seniors.

The opinions expressed did not bode well for the Romney campaign, with 54% criticizing the Republican nominee, and only 4% criticized Obama, with healthcare and taxes dominating to chatter.   Bluefin’s findings reflect Romney’s loss of support among seniors, which some analysts say could cost him the election.

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