Twitter celebrated its 10th birthday on March 21. Happy 10th, Twitter! That’s 10 years of hashtags, re-tweets and favoriting. The platform’s come a long way over the past decade, evolving from a simple text-message based application into an integral part of the wider communications landscape; its real-time stream is now a part of breaking news stories around the world, and it plays an important role in the way we connect and communicate.
Many industries have come to rely on Twitter for real-time data newsfeeds and lively story ideas. As newspaper and magazine circulation has fallen and staffs have been cut back, journalists believe they’d no longer be able to function without social media, and Twitter is the most popular platform. Anyone who follows sports knows that athletes these days are all on social media. These are guys with big egos, and they love to tweet, so our favorite sportscasters have followed them onto this platform. It’s fodder for endless stories about their outrageous antics and opinions.
International incidents meet critical mass
It’s been just a few days since the horror of the Brussels terrorist bombing, a few months since 130 people died in a similar atrocity in Paris. Images and videos quickly went viral, sharing the horror of yet more innocent people dying at the hands of ISIS. Twitter has become a powerful medium with the ability to quickly disseminate these stories of terrorism around the world.
Understanding the power of Twitter
The numbers are impressive.
- When Caitlyn Jennings used Twitter to announce her transformation, it took just over 4 hours to reach 1M people.
- During the World Cup Final, there were nearly 620K Tweets every single minute.
- Sadly, Justin Bieber is the most mentioned person, at 943M Tweets
- More than 27M Tweets were sent about the Boston Marathon bombing
- Nelson Mandela’s death: 95K Tweets/minute
Yet Twitter has its detractors, including me
I’m a writer. I have a masters degree and have spent years honing a skill. This platform has devalued the art of communication into 140-character sound bites. For those who were already bad writers, Twitter celebrates mediocrity. While many people are using Twitter creatively and well for their businesses, the majority of what hits my inbox is drivel—some nearly impossible to decipher with their combinations of hashtags, symbols and abbreviations.
I just checked my Twitter account
I’ve been posting to Twitter for a few years now, not really paying much attention—I’m interested in it its SEO value. I have 644 Tweets, 875 followers, and I’m following nearly 1,300 people. Amazing. I never do anything to get more followers—people follow me or Re-Tweet my Tweets, which is nice, thank you. Sometimes I look at these people and they’re from Germany, the UK or Asia. Sometimes they respond in languages that I can’t identify. Their responses can be “father, coffee drinker, social media fan”. So what? A lot of these people call themselves writers/authors. Generally in some dark genre of self-publishing hell. These people are just so silly that I can’t ever take this medium seriously.
I understand the power of Twitter . . .
Intellectually, I understand the power of Twitter, but I don’t really consider it a serious medium for me. As a solopreneur who advises many other solopreneurs and small businesses about their marketing, it’s necessary to make choices about how we spend our marketing dollars—and that includes our time. To make social media really work for us, it takes a concerted effort and considerable time. It’s like a 12-step program—it works if you work it. I believe there are better ways to be spending your valuable resources than focusing on Twitter.