What is Twitter? Why the 140-Character Social Medium is Important for Your Business

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By now nearly everyone will have heard of the incredibly popular social network site, Twitter. Twitter is popular worldwide due to its ease of use and convenience. However, though it is so pervasive, let’s take a moment to describe what Twitter is fundamentally to help inform people who may not be familiar with its finer points.

What Exactly Is Twitter and what is a Tweet?

Twitter is a ‘microblogging’ service that allows users to post status updates in 140 characters or less. These short messages are called ‘tweets’ and the people who receive a users tweets are called ‘followers.’ Unlike many other social networking sites, Twitter does not require a reciprocal relationship. That means that a person can follow someone, such a celebrity, company, or other individual and thus receive their tweets without necessarily also being followed in turn. However, reciprocal relationships can certainly exist too, whereby users each receive the other’s messages.

Twitter functions such that users can post their status updates in a variety of ways. A user can log into their Twitter account and post their messages online, or they can post them from their tablet or mobile device. There are also a number of apps designed to help people manage their Twitter accounts.

The History and Milestones of Twitter

Twitter was created in March, 2006 by Jack Dorsey. It grew out of a daylong brainstorming session at podcasting company Odeo. That’s right, this massively popular service was first conceptualized in the span of a single day! Naturally of course it has undergone quite a bit of further development and fine tuning since.

Twitter has snowballed in popularity since its earliest days and its growth rate has been massive. Today there are roughly 340 million tweets daily! As of 2012 there are over 500 million registered users. The current record for most tweets at one time was set on January 1st 2013 by the citizens of the Japan Standard time Zone with over 33,000 tweets in a single second!

Must Know Twitter Features

Twitter has a number of additional features such as the retweet feature in which a user forwards a tweet that they have received to all of their followers. Such retweeting can allow topics, links, photos, and videos to ‘go viral’ spreading to a massive amount of people very quickly. Twitter also uses a hashtag feature which allows users to classify their posts and which also helps contribute to ‘Trending Topics.” Trending has become a very highly coveted goal on Twitter and refers to a topic which is listed on the homepage of Twitter as one of the top 10 most discussed topics.

In addition to retweets, hashtags, and trending topics, Twitter also supports a direct message capability. Twitter also allows its users to post links go videos, photographs, and other content. To help users stay under the 140 character limit, URL shortening services exist.

Social Marketing Practices with Twitter

The potential for successfully marketing on Twitter is huge! Nowadays most actors, celebrities, and other famous people have a twitter account to help them promote themselves and interact with fans. In fact Twitter can significantly help people achieve prominence in the first place. Not only is Twitter used frequently by celebrities and individuals, it is also very popular with businesses and other organizations.

Many bloggers also take advantage of a Twitter widget on their web pages which allows site visitors to quickly and easily share the content they read with their followers. In fact Twitter and the massive growth in the “content is king” movement have gone hand in hand. Companies that ignore Twitter do so at their own peril and more and more monitoring Twitter and responding to user comments has become a daily part of the business world.

If you have not already set up a Twitter account now is definitely the time to do so. The good news is that there are quite a few apps and programs out there to help make using and monitoring this service fast, easy, and convenient. Stay tuned for more articles and information about this popular social network site!

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