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June 16, 2009

74 per cent of Canadians unaware of Twitter
New study shows only 6 per cent of Canadians tweet

A new survey of more than 800 online Canadians from Ipsos Reid shows that only about a quarter of online Canadians are aware of the social networking site Twitter. Of those, 6 per cent actually use the site. This equates to only 1.45 per cent of the internet population, or about one per cent of the population as a whole.

Marc Laver, associate vice-president of Ipsos Reid and author of the study, “Social Networking: 2009”, says he is surprised by the low awareness of Twitter.

“Twitter gets a lot of press, and usage figures show impressive growth, but when you look at its awareness and use among mainstream online Canadians, you get a completely different picture.”

Awareness is higher among 18-34 year olds and is also significantly higher among those online Canadians with university educations – 34 per cent, compared to only 19 per cent of those with a high school education or less.

"But that being said, when I look at … internet skill level, you have to remember that most people don't classify themselves as expert or very skilled," he said, adding that the skill required may stop some people from using new technology such as Twitter.

He added that Twitter is still quite new, with other social networking sites such as Facebook having "much higher" awareness and market penetration.

For many Canadians, the growth and resulting chatter about Twitter appears to be much ado about nothing. “Many simply don’t want to know what others had for breakfast or that they are going shopping,” says Laver. “However, even at 140 characters Twitter can have some useful applications beyond learning the minutia of others’ day-to-day activities.

“From a business-to-business perspective, the tool can be used to create brand interest, inform customers and potential customers, gain industry knowledge about your competitors and what others are saying about you, and lastly, create a community. For businesses, it’s another weapon in the communications toolbox, but at this point it shouldn’t be viewed as a standalone channel,” he says

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