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Twitter: A five year review

Here is what everybody is talking about: Twitter. Twitter is a free social network, which enables its users to write what’s on their mind, at any given moment, at any given place, and share it with a group of their friends.

It is called micro-blogging because the “tweets”, as the messages are called, have a limit of 140 characters. People send and receive tweets through the Twitter website, or, with the help of external applications,  through cell phones (SMS), smartphones, iPad etc.  Users may subscribe to other user tweets and become their “followers”. An e-mail or other kind of alert is sent every time that member posted a new tweet. You can reply to someone and engage in conversation back and forth in real time (Just like SMS).

Users can post links as well. It may be a link to an interesting article or a link to their personal, more elaborate, blog. Posting a link is a little bit tricky since some of the URLs are longer than 140 characters. To make it easy, the Twitter button on many sites shorten the URL for users, or they can do it through an external website (Tinyurl.com) if they so choose.

There are many reasons why people use Twitter.com; some sign in to get updates from their friends, young adults sign in to get updates from their favorite star (Justin Beiber is the # 1 subject tweeted about). Newspapers use Twitter.com to spread the news fast, businesses use Twitter to keep in touch with their clients and let them know about promotions and discounts. Tweets about news may include a link to the whole article and blog owners tweet to let their followers know that a new post has been uploaded.

The idea for Twitter was conceived by Jack Dorsey when he was part of the board of directors of a podcasting company called Odeo. The first prototype was used at Odeo as an internal service. A few months after Twitter.com went public, some members of Odeo board formed a new company and bought Odeo and Twitter from the investors and shareholders. Twitter became its own company in April 2007.

It has been 4 ½ years since its launch, in July 2006. Today, Twitter.com is processing 65 million tweets a day – about 2 billion tweets per month.

Activity on the site spikes during International events like the 2010 FIFA World Cup, or the Lakers win in NBA 2010 finals. When Michael Jackson died, the servers crashed when users used the words ‘Michael Jackson’ at a rate of 100,000 tweets per hour.

Twitter is sometimes called SMS of the internet age or Facebook for the ADD age. It’s short, quick and simple. Users can also retweet –tweeting what someone else has said. It’s a way  others give credit to the person who produced the original tweet.

Privacy – why would you like to be private? The whole purpose of tweets is to let people know what’s on your mind. Well, you might not want all your tweets to be seen by all your contacts on your ‘following list’. Once you choose the option ‘private’, you’ll have to approve all those that the tweet is meant to reach.

Since micro blogging became very popular the last few years, people started to think how to make money using Twitter. Today there are several companies with which users can sign up and sell advertising space on their Twitter profile or tweet stream.  Advertisers will pay the owners of a Twitter page to let them promote their business on their page, but the users allow them access to their accounts. In one model, the company places an advertisement on the profile page, and on others it will insert advertising directly into the stream of conversation. Many people however find this to be offensive.

Smart use of Twitter.com

Newark Mayor Corey Booker, got $100 million for Newark schools through keeping himself visible and in the conversation. In the recent snow storms he turned himself into a one man snow patrol by asking people who are stuck in the snow to tweet him. That is how he keeps in touch with the residents of his city.

For businesses, there are a few ways to utilize Twitter:

  • Creating a buzz: Tweet about events you are going to participate in. Talking about a new product, a launch, etc. The simple fact that activity is news in real time means that there is value in knowing where you are, what you’re doing, or even who else you see doing it.
  • Develop On Demand Promotions: One company that is very successful on Twitter is the San Francisco based ModCloth.com, seller of vintage clothing. They are in constant contact with their followers, even asking them what they would like to see on sale. Businesses can tweet about sales, specials etc.
  • Tweeting Teams or Teaming up with another account holder:  If you see an event coming or an important launch or promotion, you can help them by tweeting about it, and they agree to do the same for you. The best could be by leveraging employees as people and their own social networks, after all everyone always promotes themselves first and always to the people they know best, get your employees or clients to promote themselves and you for a big win!
  • Public Relations: Imagine the ability to counter public opinion by creating the next trend! A new company or new product is out, it may be the next success, but others are waiting trying to get a feel for the product or company. Using twitter to show the overwhelming trend of others that are buying, talking or investing into that product or company might seem mediocre on a local level at 2 to 3 sales a week, but if you can combine the reach of hundred or so local markets into one location the twitter feed would run at 5 – 10 sales an hour during a business day, how’s that for creating the next hot trend!

Info: Twitter.com ranks # 10 in the world in traffic, and # 8 in the USA, according to Alexa.com. The users tend to be childless, disproportionately highly educated. High income women ages 25 and 45 who browse from work are the majority of the users, but only by a little (48% men to 52% women). About 29% of users come from the United States.

Sources:

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Comments

  1. Hi Basil, great blog!
    Demo’s any skew must be at least 10%, therefore 55% / 45% is a 50-50 demo or simply Adults. I’ll will subscribe, your stuff is excellent.

    Best,
    Andrew (Media Strategist, Ciccone-pr.com)

    • Andrew,
      Thanks, I try very hard to stay on top of this, my goal is to share as much as I can as fast as I find it, I must say I have some great leads that come from other people and without that support it would be very hard to stay on top of everything.

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