A new Pew Research Center report provides important insight into who uses Twitter. The results reinforce the notion that those who join now are still trendsetters among US adults. Since Twitter is a great tool for gathering targeted news and information and making new connections, I suggest you take a look, as I explain below.

The Data.

This is the first time PRC has specifically singled out Twitter. In the past, PRC has asked American adults whether they have used “Twitter or some other service” to post updates about themselves. This time around, PRC decided to focus on Twitter because the service is increasingly being used to study information trends (by, among others, the decade-old Pew Internet Project).

The results? Eight percent of US adults who use the internet have used Twitter at some point, but only two percent of US adults who use the internet use Twitter daily. The most heavy Twitter users are 18-29, of color, and live in cities.  Since about 75 percent of US adults access the internet, this means that about six percent of US adults have at some point used Twitter, but fewer than one percent do so every day.

My Experience – And Yours.

I’m still new to Twitter. Although I got an account in February 2009, I had not used the service at all until early March of this year. I reported my first efforts here, and if you look at the tag cloud in the right-hand column of this blog, you can find a few other entries relating to the service.

Now, after nine months, my report is absolutely positive. Viewed on an unfiltered basis, Twitter is mind-numbing. The amount of drivel people post to it is astounding. But when viewed through the filter of a powerful (and free) tool like TweetDeck, Twitter suddenly snaps into perfect clarity.

I can filter users according to what they post about. Thus, I can have into groups focusing on brain research, creative forces, DC-area creatives, local news and information, new people I’m just beginning to assess, motivation, art, health, national news, and political news. This means that I can rely on a decentralized set of “others” to provide information about what they are doing and what they have identified on the internet that I might be interested in. And because of the 140-character limit, each entry must be pithy.

No doubt, I’m still learning. But in the past nine months, I’ve met people I would not have met, and I’ve had conversations that have turned into friendships. I have learned a tremendous amount, and I have been able to get feedback to raw ideas at an unparalleled rate. I have provided more than 1,500 updates to the 2,400 or so people who currently follow me.

My broader point is that if I can learn to do this, so can you. Furthermore, although you may not fit the young and hip demographic, you will find that a surprising number of “older” people — and institutions — are using the service to advantage. The magazine Scientific American tweets. Men’s Health tweets. The Smithsonians tweet (here’s one of many). Psychology Today tweets. Management guru Tom Peters tweets. The Gray Lady tweets (here’s the core NYT account, though it has a variety of feeds). Because only a minority of US adults use the service, you can adopt now and still be at the forefront of a potential trend.

So, readers, are you using Twitter?

If so, how has it changed your behavior, if at all? This is an important question for me, because I am looking for ways that people enhance their connections and gather and process information.

What do you like or dislike about the service? Has it changed your life for the better, or is it simply another time sink?

Please let me know in your comments. And by all means, also track me down on Twitter. (This is especially easy to do because I have a “follow me” tab on the right side of the blog screen.)