For anyone who doesn’t know, Twitter is a social media platform that was launched in 2006 and is a simple way of sharing short updates, information and news (140 characters or less). It can be used to share and get updates on news as it’s happening (from TV show opinion to world changing events).
According to Twitter, there are around 460,000 sign-ups per day (techland) and the best recent estimate for Twitter users was 200 million (Guardian). Facebook is more popular with 750 million active users (Facebook) and the number of Google+ users is unknown, especially since Google+ is still in its invite only phase (estimates on-line seemed to range from 20/30 million to ten times this amount!).
-The immediacy of Twitter is incredible. Type in you city, your favourite celebrity, or an event and find out what is being said right NOW. It’s a great way of finding out opinion, from grassroots to bigwigs. You can see, at a glance what topics are Trending (most tweeted about topics on Twitter at any given moment) by looking in the sidebar to the right of your Twitter homepage.
-An organisation or business has the scope to reach many more followers than on Facebook since users are much more willing to follow hundreds or thousands of Tweeters (this does mean that it’s necessary to tweet several times a day to stand a chance of having your Tweets noticed).
-The punchiness of Twitter forces your message to be STRONG.
-An individual can follow and interact with anyone on Twitter. If they want they can just follow accounts and never tweet themselves at all.
-Twitter messages can be sent and received direct to a mobile phone for free which is a great way to stay in touch with your favourite tweeters, especially if you have a poor internet signal or don’t have a smart phone.
-Sites that have implemented a Twitter “tweet” button are seven times more likely to have their content shared than if they don’t (BrightEdge).
-During prominent events Twitter’s usage spikes and it provides a unique way to connect thousands/millions of people. When American singer Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009, Twitter servers crashed after users were updating their status to include the words “Michael Jackson” at a rate of 100,000 tweets per hour (wikipedia).
and here’s why:
It’s a massively powerful tool because it gives people the ability to bypass conventional media and get, make and share information as it’s happening. It’s easy to see what topics are the most popular at any given moment and follow or jump in on the conversation. It can be used by anyone to talk about anything. At the time of writing Foreign Secretary William Hague had just been answering questions from the public on the UK’s policy on Libya via Twitter (using the hashtags #askFS and #Libya so people could keep up with the debate).
Interest in Twitter may wax and wain and it may not be used by all users on a daily basis, but during big events it is invaluable and it receives a massive upsurge in interest and new uers. Recently Twitter was heavily used during the recent uprisings in the middle east, the explosion and shootings in Norway and during the riots across England (by rioters and riotcleanup-ers). The ability to link up, immediately, with complete strangers over a cause, person or event is unique.
Finally, for those of you who love stats, here are Twitter’s top Trending Topics for the world from the first half of 2011, divided into two sections:
Author @1marchhare, social media manager at march hare media
Image by chawalitpix