The new social media tool that has witnessed a high rate of penetration is also attracting new ways of branding and marketing. According to the Time magazine ‘Twitter is on its way to becoming the next killer app’ and according an independent estimate, its growth rate is 1382%.
Twitter, the micro-blogging platform is a free networking website where people answer one simple question: What are you doing now. The popularity of this tool in a social and commercial context has even called for a conference on this theme. The 140 Characters Conference, a two-day conference exploring topics related to Twitter in New York, scheduled in June this year.
What it twitter
Twitter is a social networking website where one can register free and connects to other similar tweeters. It is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers called posts or tweets. Interestingly you can post any number tweets each day but each tweet must be only 140 characters long. Twitter is a free micro-blogging service more like the online counterpart of SMS communications.
Jack Dorsey was inspired by implementations of instant messaging and developed twitter in 2006. Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams co-founded the company Obvious which later spun off Twitter Incorporations with Evan being the CEO. Making twitter accessible through mobile phones is a main reason behind its explosive adoption.
All your tweets can be read by anyone in your network and they can even reply back to your tweets. A word or phrase can be prefixed with a #, for e.g. #travel to hashtag twitter messages. These tags are useful to surf up in searches based a key words. A nice way to start is to watch a video about Twitter at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddO9idmax0o. Once you register, find who else from your family and friends are on twitter (other than the author of course). Many sites like thewww.twitterImage.com provide twitter background images to begin creating your branded page.
According Nielsen Online, over 10 million users are on Twitter as of Feb2009 with about 5-9 thousand new accounts being opened every day. Out of these over 70% are active and the remaining are relatively new or unengaged users. Interestingly 70% of Twitter users joined in 2008 and the network is constantly widening. Although on an average each user has about 70 followers, only 35% of twitter users have less than 10 followers revealing that it is very closely and widely networked community.
It is possible to post tweets via the http://www.twitter.com/ website or use mobile phone clients such as TweetDeck or PocketTweets . Twitter also provides easy-to-learn APIs for developers to build their own applications for twitter. The Google desktop widget also sports a Twitter gadget. Tweets can be displayed on most blogs and websites using plugin code. Being sleek and simple twittering is everyone’s cup of tea both to read and to post.
An application named StreamGraph shows the latest 1000 tweets which contain the search word typed into the text box at the top. You can also enter a Twitter ID preceded by the '@' symbol to see the latest tweets from that user. Newbie on twitter are recommended to read the Twitter dictionary at http://twictionary.pbworks.com/ to understand tweet culture and learn the language of this micro-community.
What you can with twitter
Now with just 140 words, the users of the twitter community have managed to keep in touch on the go and have managed to use it more innovatively too. You can respond to your friend’s tweets in real time and all this is visible to users who follow your account.
Users can also search for other twitter users from the same community or with a common interest and follow them. Users can also be blocked and this happens when spammers use twitter accounts to widen their distribution. According to a review, web interfaced applications of twitter are more popular with 48.1% of user using it. This is followed by desktop clients of 21.8% and mobile interface users of about 17.9%.
Twitter as a personalised communication platform continues to inspire business community andn the new solution named Twibs is a basically a directory of businesses using Twitter to communicate with consumers, peers, and tastemakers. The transformation of branding and marketing using this social media cannot be ignored by businesses who are looking at online media with budget constraints. Twibs is currently tracking roughly 4,500 brands on Twitter as well as associated promotions that they're running within the popular micro community.
Who uses twitter
Twitter universe includes not only common users but also business organisations, marketers, colleges / universities, broadcasters, news services, radio stations, weather bureaus and even some government organisations. Professionals like writers, photographers, musicians, music groups and some celebrities have also been bitten by the twitter bug.
Celebrity clones, fakers and minor celebrities seem more active on this platform for obvious reasons. The government of US, UK and Australia use twitter while celebrities like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, 10 DowningStreet, Shashi Tharoor, Neil Diamond, Demi Moore, Queen Rania are also on twitter. In Oman, several bloggers use twitter and the community is fast expanding with blackberry users who tweet via mobile clients.
Deskptop clients such as Tweetdeck feature twitter functionality right on the desktop. It helps to upload pics to Twitpic and shortens your URLs (via bit.ly). Through blip.fm which is like Twitter for music, and you can share tracks with other users in real time.
Twitvid enables video sharing (upto 1GB or 20 mins) while Filetwt does the same for file sharing (up to 20 MB) with your friends. Twazzup let you query tweets and Tweetstats provides like, how often do you actually tweet, how often do you @reply, trends of individual accounts etc. and puts them into visual charts and graphs for better understanding.
Spy master is a twitter-based online social game, where you use your twitter account to sign up. All fellow spies in this game are your twitterers. Twitter notifications are the real keys to the game. For doing all of these various tasks, you get in-game fake money, points to level-up to become a better spymaster. On failing in assassination attempts or other tasks, you can get injured and lose money. The activities within the spymaster can set up to automatically tweet out when you do them. This game can get people addicted, annoyed or be overwhelmed.
Twitter users can set up channels and members of this channels cann send tweets which will aggregate under the channel. Thematic channels have some interesting contents as users of these cahnnels have creative as well as a wider range of tweets of interest. Find your favourite channels and join the same or create one for your networked community. TweetChannel is another simple example of how something simple is creating or leading to increasingly complex behaviour.
TweetUp is an offline meeting of people who have met and organized on Twitter, and they’re a great way to both find local Twitter users. It’s time for readers to start tweeting and let’s meet at a Tweetup and take Twitter-based networking to the next level.