Twitter hits mainstream

Our favourite social network, and site we visit on a hourly basis is Twitter. The network has truly come of age and hit the mainstream of internet users this week with a variety of indicators suggesting this.

Where did the idea for this site come from?

With an idea and a sketch by Founder and Chairman of Twitter, Jack Dorsey. He explains:

One night in July of that year I had an idea to make a more “live” LiveJournal. Real-time, up-to-date, from the road. Akin to updating your AIM status from wherever you are, and sharing it. For the next 5 years, I thought about this concept and tried to silently introduce it into my various projects.

Photo of wireframe that was to become the basis for the design of Twitter Flickr photo of wireframe

In 2006 Twitter launched, and immediately the service rapidly gained popularity: In March 2007, it won the 2007 South by Southwest Web Award in the blog category. Dorsey gave the following playful acceptance speech at SXSW: “We’d like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!”.

Early adopters we mainly web type people and various geek collectives sending their thoughts to other connected friends.

For us, it has been excellent for gaining instant insight into new products, people views on various web services and keeping in touch with colleagues, friends and peers without having to email or call them!

Brand and reputation management

However, it didn’t take long for forward thinking companies to identify that they could directly converse with their customers on this rapidly growing social media platform.

Never before has one been able to track and measure what is being said about your brand and product online. View the results for the keyword ‘cornflakes‘ using Twitter Search. This surely has to be the quickest and most cost effective way to communicate with your customers, increase coverage of your brand, and increase the strength of your company reputation, online.

Today, Twitter is one of the most visited websites in the UK

UK Internet traffic to the site has increased 10-fold over past last 12 months. For the week ending 17/01/09 Twitter ranked as the 291st most visited website in the UK, up from a ranking of 2,953 for the week ending 19/01/08. UK Internet traffic to the website has increased by 974% over this period.

Source: Hitwise

The most popular website visited after Twitter is Facebook. Britain’s most popular social network continues to pick up users and is now the second most visited website in the UK after Google UK. As we reported a few weeks ago, on Christmas Day Facebook received 1 in every 22 UK Internet visits.

Prominent Users on Twitter

A number of politicians, celebrities use twitter to communicate with their followers/fans.

Twitter first for breaking news

Using Twitter search to monitor the ‘buzz’ over last years US elections was a fantastic way to get into the voters minds, as well as getting their opinions, gut reactions and feelings on what was happening at a very detailed street level with all the events and coverage.

Earlier this month, US Airways Flight 1549 experienced multiple bird strikes and had to be ditched in the Hudson River after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Janis Krum, a passenger on one of the ferries that rushed to help, took a picture of the downed plane as passengers were still evacuating and tweeted it via TwitPic before traditional media arrived at the scene.

Twitter featured on BBC homepage

Perhaps the strongest sign that Twitter has reached the mainstream is being featured on the homepage of one of the worlds busiest websites.

Questions on the future of Twitter

There is no doubt Twitter is here to stay.

The question I have is the problem of friends on other social networks. How soon will they realise they have to start a new friends list on this site as well? Something we have been aware of for all too long, effectively a ‘Walled Gardens for each social network’. Perhaps mass demand will increase the adoption of OpenID. Although, single source sign-on was dropped from Twitters features during a company restructure in 2008 so is not currently supported.

Also with our current friends on Twitter are a bit more low-fi than some of the techy conversations we may have currently with colleagues on Twitter, this is leading to multiple profiles for the same person. For example, a business and personal (private) profile.

Another problem is that all the Facebook friends you’re currently avoiding will track you down on Twitter – so what then?

You can follow me on Twitter @JimCallender, where I continue to enjoy the service and would gladly pay for some additional features. I find the short method of communicating in 140 characters or less and ‘from one-to-many’ to fit my style and enjoy ‘following’ and updating my friends.

Further Reading

Jim Callender

Since 2003, Callender Creates have been responsible for delivering high profile sites for a variety of Award Winning Design & Marketing Agencies. Our Strengths are in Front-End Development and Cutting Edge Web Technologies. Services include Web Consultancy, Strategy, UX, HTML5, CSS3, WordPress, and Magento. >> Need to Discuss your Next Digital Project? Contact Us