Last night – at 8:50pm GMT – Twitter turned five years old and it got me thinking.
I openly admit to boycotting Twitter when it was launched (echos of protesting “I don’t care what Betty ate for breakfast” spring to mind). But I equally admit to being a convert five years later.
Some thoughts on why
1. Twitter can help sort the headlines from the fun stuff, and the urgent news from the background material.
A useful tool in tracking the latest news out of Libya or Japan, Twitter can also draw your attention to an article you might otherwise have missed by browsing a webpage. Case in point: I only came across the Financial Times’ rave review of EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva through their tweet of it:
Twitter is great for communicators. But it is also great for listeners. While searching for who was tweeting on Twitter’s birthday, I came across this from European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek:
@jerzybuzek: “Happy 5th birthday to #Twitter – one year+ for my account, essential way for me to communicate”
Buzek –or the person who manages his Twitter account- averages some five tweets a day and talks about everything from current events to internal Parliament decisions. But he also takes an obvious interest in anyone who responds to his tweets and regularly responds. True to the 2011 EP Digital Trends study, the EP is waking up to social media.
3. Twitter can bring on the funny – but more importantly, the creative.
Reducing a message to 140 characters can be challenging, but it also encourages communicators to have a clear and attention-grabbing message. It is a great tool for creativity in sectors that might not immediately be considered creative – just ask mutual fans of logistics and Salt-N-Pepa:
Funny. Informative. And a reference to a 80s music “classic”.
Point is, as Tris Hussey of the Vancouver Observer keenly observed, “For something that was so geeky when it started out that even geeks didn’t know what to do with it, Twitter sure has taken off like a rocket.” And I find it useful, both professionally and for the fun stuff.
Where will Twitter go from here? The Guardian gives a few interesting indications: “40% of tweets originate on a mobile device […] with 5.3 billion mobile phone users in the world, and 90% of the world’s population in reach of a mobile phone network, Twitter has a far better chance of reaching everyone first…”
[Just starting out on Twitter? Here are some tips on how to get started.]