Overview

Twitter, Inc. is based in San Francisco, and per Wikipedia, twitter.com currently has over 190 million users who are sending approximately 65 millions tweets a day. The company's tagline (per its Twitter account) is "What's Happening?" According to CrunchBase.com, the company was founded by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March, 2006. Dorsey, Stone, and Williams hatched the idea for Twitter while working for Odeo, a podcasting service. Dorsey served as Chief Executive Officer until 2008 when Williams took over as CEO, and Dorsey became Chairman of the corporation. In October 2010, Williams stepped down to focus exclusively on product strategy. Biz Stone currently serves as Creative Director.

In an interview with vator.tv, Dorsey describes Twitter as a "real-time news service, and that news is both from friends, and from events, and from newspapers, and organizations." In other words, Twitter is a social networking/mini-blogging application where users can communicate via tweets, or texts composed in 140 characters or less, that answer the simple question, "What are you doing?" Users "follow" other users by subscribing to their tweets. These status updates can be posted via the website, smartphone apps, or SMS. Anyone can use Twitter, but in order to Tweet and follow other users, you must register for an account.

Key Features

Twitter allows you to follow the thoughts (aka "tweets") of people or organizations. These 1 line tweets could contain hyperlinks to outside web sites with video, news articles, pictures or pod casts that further explain the information.

  • Instant status updates, arranged topically or chronologically, by person or by group of people
  • Ability to follow tweet trends at regional, national, or worldwide levels.
  • Ability to search for thoughts or news on specific subjects.
  • Ability to repost, or "retweet", information with your comments attached.
  • Ability to create lists of preferred users to follow.
  • Ability to link with outside sources.

The Many Uses of Twitter

In an effort to present you with accurate, up-to-date information about the uses of Twitter (other than stalking your favorite celebrities), we conducted some primary research on that other famous social networking site, Facebook. Below are a few of the responses we received:

"I use it to follow businesses that I want to get updates from. I don't follow any "normal people". And I only check it about once a year. I'm obviously not your target audience."

"I search all my witnesses, clients, defendants, etc. on it, FB, and all the other sites like those."

"I like to write funny things. I like to follow funny people and spiritual/preacher/pastor types. I don't care about what celebs are doing!"

"I don't use it personally, but I set up the NIU School of Theatre and Dance Twitter last year. We used it for free publicity for shows and annoucements pertaining to the departmental goings-on... I don't know if they still use it but it was somewhat successul last year."

"I use it for getting wisdom. I never tweet, but I like reading what wise people have to say. I follow people like CS Lewis Daily , etc. , something that I can glean from."

Potential Applications

Twitter allows companies to market direct to clients. Writers can keep touch with their fan base. Reporters can follow trends of other news organizations or the trends of the public to determine which news is most important. To see a more specific listing of applications find the the subsection that matches your profession or interest:

Companies:

  • Send sales announcements to their customers
  • Announce the launch of a new product
  • Inform stockholders of company performance

Writers:

  • Leak plot details to rabid fans
  • Announce book signings or speaking engagements
  • Build a larger audience for your words

Reporters:

  • Discover what other news organizations are writing about
  • Send one-line "teasers" of the articles provided in today's paper
  • Find potential sources
  • Gauge public opinion on a particular issue

Average Janes/Joes:

  • Keep in touch with your friends
  • Track the thoughts of your favorite celebrities
  • Glean inside information to help your fantasy sports team
  • Network for possible job leads

Twitter in the News

"Sinker Swims in a Sea of Celebrity" by Mark Caro.Chicago Tribune. March 1, 2011 - a man who set up a twitter account in Chicago Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emmanuel's name finds an instant audience.

"Homeless Man Daniel Morales Finds Daughter Through Twitter." by The Huffington Post. Feb. 25, 2011.

"Twitter: Is Brevity the Next Big Thing?" by Steven Levy. Newsweek. April 30, 2007

"Iran Protests: Twitter, the Medium of the Movement" by Lev Grossman. Time. June 17, 2009