Wednesday 21 March 2012

twitter's birthday

Twitter’s birthday: Six tweet years already?
Alyshah Hasham Staff Reporter
Twitter is now six years away from that first 140 characters-or-less tweet from co-founder Jack Dorsey: “Just setting up my twttr.” Back then the company had just 5 employees exactly six years ago yesterday. Now there are more than 800 and they aim to have 1,000 by the end of the year. It took three years, two months and one day to reach a billion tweets on the site. In 2011, 60 billion tweets were sent out.
They have more than 100 million users right now (though Facebook has more than 800 million).

The social network has wormed its way into mainstream society, and mainstream media. Jack Layton made his infamous reference to “Hashtag Fail” during one of the election debates. People no longer just watch live television, they participate online, tweeting up storms during the Grammy’s and the Superbowl.
It’s taken us to the final frontier, with the first tweet from space. It took us into an operating room, as surgeons live-tweeted an open-heart surgery. It allowed one man to inadvertently live-blog the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.
It even became a symbol of a new generation, along with Facebook during the Arab Spring uprising.
But for all that, Twitter hasn’t changed human nature, it has just made it easier to establish the connections we naturally want to make, says Anatoliy Gruzd, director of the Social Media Lab at Dalhousie University.
Six ways Twitter has changed the way businesses work:
Consumer focus groups
“If there is a conversation happening that is relevant to your organization, any right thinking businessperson is going to want to engage in that conversation, or at least know about it, and Twitter lets you do that,” says social media pioneer and vice-president at MediaFile, Michael Clarke.
It lets you listen in on your investors and your customers, and track trends as well as real-time reactions to events – so even if a company isn’t an active presence on Twitter, it still needs to pay attention, he says.
And the importance of the Twitter archive to marketers could be invaluable. Twitter has sold the rights to mine their archive of tweets to DataSift Inc. which will able to provide access to focus groups by geographic location. So Tim Hortons could find out what people in Toronto think of their lattes, or RIM could gather reaction to their new Playbook launch.
Interaction with customers
Twitter allows businesses to reach out and communicate with their consumers, get feedback, humanize a brand and build loyalty. Clarke says that more businesses now acknowledge the importance of social media but people are still doing it wrong. Rather than using corporate answers to questions, companies need to have a real person behind the Twitter account, so customers know they are being heard and understood.
The power of word of mouth
This marketing strategy has been amplified hugely by Twitter for better or for worse. A Rogers attempt at using the hashtag #Rogers1Number ended up with irate customers making the communication giant a trending topic for all the wrong reasons. But positive reviews shared via Twitter, and indeed through all social networking sites – or a viral marketing campaign like that of the Dollar Shave startup – can deliver huge benefits.
Evaluating employees
The first thing employers do now is check out a potential hire’s LinkedIn page and Twitter feed, says Clarke. In some cases they’re accessing Facebook profiles too. Being able to see a person’s tweets is a great resource for employers, though it does mean that job seeker’s have to be a monitor for their social media use, and remember that what goes online, stays online for the most part.
Track the competition
Twitter is also a way of keeping an eye on what the competition is up to, the ways they are using social media to interact with consumers, and their customer reactions.
The job search
Job seekers can also use Twitter to prepare for interviews by following other people who work for the company, or even catch the eye of hiring managers with creative tweeting. And actively developing a personal brand that appeals to prospective employers, could increase chances of being hired during that social media evaluation.
Six ways Twitter has changed us and the world we live in
The power of crowds
“Twitter has changed the power dynamics in our society,” says Gruzd.
He cites the vehement protests on Twitter against, a domain-owning corporation that supported the Stop Online Piracy Act, an Internet censorship bill and the outcry against the Conservative government’s electronic privacy law, Bill C-30.
The power of the crowd has also been harnessed by charities and non-profits seeking donations after the earthquakes in Haiti and in Japan. It has also manifested in outcry over the arrest of Egyptian-American journalist EltahawyEND whose followers got #freemona to trend globally after she tweeted about being taken into custody.
New connections and networks
Barry Wellman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto says Twitter has allowed people to follow their passions and connect with like-minded people beyond physical reach.
However, social media connections tend to remain local, says Gruzd. Twitter also operates in different languages, which presents another barrier to truly developing a global network. – though he says the network is developing a translation tool that could facilitate a truly global conversation.
Consumption of information
There is more information available than ever before, and it’s being shared rapidly. Gruzd notes that as we pick and choose our news sources, the information we receive becomes one-sided, narrowing, rather than broadening our horizons.
Information credibility
Stephen Gennaro, a cultural historian at York University says it’s important to remain positive about the new technology. New rules of literacy are being developed because of social networks, just as when the printing press was introduced.
At the same time, thinking critically about where information comes from is also essential, he says. As people are declared dead on Twitter on a regular basis, and news outlets struggle to determine fact from fiction in tweets emerging from events like the Arab Spring, the information we receive needs to be evaluated.
Participation with pop culture and politics
Gruzd says mainstream media is helping make Twitter more common and integrated into our lives by introducing hashtags for shows and promoting online discussion. The highest recorded numbers of tweets per second occurring during events like the Grammy’s and the Superbowl.
And though Lady Gaga has more followers than Barack Obama, Twitter has also become place that is allowing people to express political views and have a public voice – something integral to democracy, says Gennaro.
Tweeting without thinking
Re-tweeting without reading and tweeting before considering the content of the tweet have gotten a number of people into trouble over Twitter’s history. Journalists, cops, and even an MMA fighter have all been fired for things they’ve tweeted. In the St. Patrick’s Day riot near London, Ont. one young man involved was found because of his tweets about the incident.

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