With more than 280 million active users, Twitter remains one of the top social networks in terms of global engagement. Twitter has become the go-to source for microblogging – short bursts of rapid fire communication that allow us to connect with friends, colleagues and others.
But Twitter remains misunderstood by many Americans despite its impressive growth; there can be a steep learning curve when someone first begins tweeting, and many people become “Twitter quitters” at some point – either leaving behind an inactive account or closing their account entirely.
Then there are those of us who spend time on Twitter every day – keeping up with industry trends, following thought leaders, or just chatting about any subject under the sun. What is it about Twitter that’s allowed it to grow into one of the leading social networks? This post will explore that question and consider Twitter’s positioning in the future of social.
Blue bird takes flight
Twitter has seen tremendous growth in its nearly seven years of existence. The San Francisco-based company was created in March 2006 by entrepreneur and developer Jack Dorsey. Its allure is simple – a broadcasting channel where you can communicate with text messages up to 140 characters known as “tweets.” Twitter also allows you to easily share media such as photos and videos. The format allows for anything from mindless chatter to political debates to discussions about the next big thing in business.
Today the blue Twitter bird logo is among the most well-known among social networks (perhaps second only to Facebook). And the network is where many of us go to discuss just about anything in real time – from the Super Bowl to the Grammys.
Twitter allows you to follow people and businesses that interest you, and you in turn can be followed by anyone with an account (under the default privacy setting). Some of us love to use Twitter to communicate, while others would rather use Twitter mainly as a listening tool. If you’re interested in monitoring a particular subject like SEO or marketing, you can create a customized Twitter list that allows you to follow up to 500 feeds that you select.
While Twitter offers some great opportunities for marketers, we need to be smart in how we use the channel for business. People who use the network regularly are able to detect blatant salesmanship from a mile away – and we don’t like it; instead, you need to be genuine and give others a reason to listen. You need to spend the time to actually set up an account that describes you as a person (if you represent a business, be upfront about your affiliation) and you need to actively engage your audience. If you’re a marketing manager, you should encourage and guide your employees in working together to help your company build an influential brand on Twitter.
No longer second, but still a force
Google+ has passed Twitter as the second-largest social network, which probably isn’t surprising given Google’s resources and its determination to beat Facebook at its own game. So where does this leave Twitter?
Twitter is still in a strong position because it often represents our second screen as we go about activities like watching television. Millions of Americans love to tweet while they’re watching sports (and numerous teams have adopted hashtags to encourage discussion) to share their observations about that missed call or incredible shot. Television programs like Survivor regularly show hashtags that encourage viewers to discuss certain aspects of an episode. In this sense, Twitter taps into our sense of community – our desire to feel connected to those who feel passionate about the same things we’re passionate about, whether that’s sports, politics, technology, or religion.
Anyone interested in politics has no doubt noticed the sea change in how social media – and Twitter in particular – has been incorporated into news reporting and the overall discussion of unfolding political trends or events. It’s become the best real-time communication tool to discuss everything from the State of the Union address to Sen. Rubio’s sip of water during his response.
So, what are your thoughts about Twitter? How do you use the network, and how do you see it fitting into the future of social?
Need help setting up your Twitter account? Download our guide to Increasing Conversions with Social Media.