Sometimes I feel bad for Twitter. The Little Blue Bird has the unenviable position of being compared to a behemoth like Facebook, which counts over 80% of Americans among its clan; or Snapchat, the current cool kid on the block; or even Pinterest, with its army of CPG and apparel-buying moms. Our President has kept Twitter in the public dialog, for sure, but Wall St. is still mixed on its prospect as a business, even as the stock climbed 27% this year.

Our data definitively show that Twitter’s user base has grown steadily over the past 12 months, no doubt buoyed by the attention the President drives to the platform. By our latest count, 21% of US adults are regular (at least weekly) users of the platform.

Don’t Let the Numbers Fool You

The folly in evaluating Twitter, however, is in comparing that 21% figure to larger, more ubiquitous social media companies. Twitter’s value does not lie in the size of its audience but in its unique psychographic composition. As we’ve written extensively before, “the American people” are not on Twitter. No, a small, defined, and highly-valuable group of consumers are there. And, the more Twitter (and Wall St.) understand that, the more the company will flourish.

One challenge for Twitter is that its audience niche isn’t easily explained demographically, like Pinterest (with its moms and young women) or Snapchat and Instagram (with their Millennials and Gen Zs). The platform’s gender distribution is almost perfectly in line with the full U.S. population (51F:48M). Sure, it skews younger, but other than at the oldest (55+) and youngest (Under 24) extremes, the numbers (25-54) are pretty darn representative. There’s a healthy distribution of minorities on Twitter and even the income level of its users looks uncannily similar to national norms. But that’s where the normality ends.

The Twitter Tribe

We recently analyzed a sample of 16,736 U.S. adults who use Twitter at least weekly or more, in comparison to the broader U.S. population, across a litany of demographic and psychographic variables. The full output of what we call a DeepProfile™ report can be downloaded, here. 

TL;DR, here are some highlights that explain why Twitter’s user base is so valuable for advertisers:

Twitter users are Market Mavens. They try new technologies before everyone else does – things like augmented reality and smart home products – then run to their social networks to tell everyone about them. They consult online reviews before buying anything, they’re sophisticated “showrooming” shoppers, and are far more influenced by social media than by television or other forms of advertising. In short, if you’re introducing a new product into the consumer market, Twitter users should be one of your first priorities. They’ll try your thing and, if they like it, spread the word like wild fire. Just make sure your product doesn’t suck, because they’ll kill it just as fast.

They consume a lot of television and video content. Twitter users are much more likely to use Netflix or to skip commercials on TV using their DVR. They over-index as viewers in most TV genres, particularly sitcoms and music/entertainment. They’re less likely to watch TV news, instead relying on the web (via Twitter) to get their news content.

Twitter users are a gold mine for the food and restaurant industry. Here, their Market Maven tendencies add another dimension. Twitter-ers place a high value on food, try new foods before other people do, follow culinary trends, and regularly search for recipes online. Perhaps more valuable, they dine out – in virtually every category – way more than average. Twitter users are especially fond patrons of fast casual joints, but also order take-out and delivery on a frequent basis. If you’re trying to reach someone with your lunchtime restaurant promotion, the Twitter audience is 20% more likely than the typical consumer to be in your target audience.

They’re mega sports fans. Twitter users are not only more likely than average to follow every major U.S. sport, they’re way more likely to attend games in person. They particularly over-index as NHL and NCAA basketball fans.

A few other notable items:

• Twitter users are much more likely to use online and/or mobile banking;
• They’re very concerned about climate change, so they recycle, buy local and organic, and otherwise adjust their lifestyles to help the environment;
 They volunteer.

We’re also looking at how Twitter users feel about hundreds of brands in our system but we’ll save that report for another day. You could probably guess a lot of those results for yourself, based on the picture we painted above.

In any event, Twitter reaches a super-valuable, if not Facebook-sized, audience. And, for many of its users, this smaller, exclusive group may be their favorite reason to congregate there in the first place. Going mainstream might be exactly the thing Twitter and its shareholders shouldn’t want. Size isn’t everything.