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How Americans Communicate and What It Means for Your Marketing

Texting has overtaken all other forms of communication as the most common way of communicating for Americans under age 50, according to a new Gallup poll. Talking on a cellphone and sending and reading email messages are close behind.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans polled say they texted “a lot” the day before being polled, 38 percent talked on a cellphone a lot and 37 percent used email a lot. (The study took place on a weekday). Use of social media, landline business phones and landline personal phones were far behind.

Perhaps not surprisingly, texting is most prevalent among 18-to-29-year-olds, more than two-thirds of whom report using texting a lot. However, almost half of those aged 30 to 49 use texting a lot too. Younger Americans also rank well above older age groups in their use of cellphones (50 percent use them a lot) and email (48 percent use it a lot) on a daily basis.

Other interesting tidbits: While those aged 18 to 29 use social media quite a lot to communicate, its use drops off significantly among respondents 30 or older. As for Twitter specifically, use was highest among the youngest group, but even so, just 14 percent use it a lot. Just 3 percent of those 30 to 50 use it and virtually no one over 65 does. Communicating via Twitter was defined as either posting, reading tweets or both. That means even when you consider “lurkers,” Twitter use is rare among those over age 29.

What do these results mean for your business marketing?

Focus on Millennials. Millennials communicate the most on a daily basis, using all types of methods. This means they’re your best bet for spreading the word about your business to their friends, co-workers and other connections. Use all tools available to you—mobile marketing on their smartphones, SMS text messaging for time-limited offers and discounts, and social media posts—to engage with them.

Time to drop Twitter? Unless your target audience is mostly Millennials, you may not need to focus on Twitter. (Note: the study focused on consumers, so B2B businesses may get more traction on Twitter.) With such a small percentage of people over 29 using it at all, this social media outlet may not be worth your time and effort.

Don’t phone home. Home landlines are rarely used by anyone except the 65-and-over crowd; even then, just 17 percent use them a lot—seniors are more likely to use cell phones. If you collect phone numbers for marketing purposes, don’t ask for a home phone number—just ask for the best phone number to reach the customer. Your sales calls will be more likely to succeed.