The advent of Twitter, founded in 2006, has brought the term ‘micro blogs’ into the mainstream. Nearly 250 million monthly active users (MAUs) long on to Twitter, the world’s second most popular social networking website. Only Facebook, which has roughly 750 million MAUs, has more regular users than Twitter. As MAU growth has slowed from 2012 to 2013, however, questions about Twitter’s usefulness and ability to offer quality, advertiser-friendly content have grown louder.
Some argue that Twitter has run its course, and that new social networking avenues like Snapchat and Instagram are poised to takes its place as a primary hub of social activity. Others believe that, with the interest surrounding the company’s impending initial public offering (IPO), Twitter is more relevant and useful than ever before.
As the IPO is scheduled to launch, the company provided information in its Form S-1 filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission that says an active user can be an individual who is logged onto the site via the web, a mobile connection or through a third-party site or application. Because there are many different ways a user can access Twitter, some MAUs may not actually be sending content to Twitter or interacting with the websites all-important advertisers.
The Pew Research Center’s 2013 Teens, Social Media, and Privacy report shows a decline in Twitter usage among teens age 12-17. Overall usage between Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 rose 3 percent but subsequently fell 4 percent in Fall 2013, as of September 30. Twitter averaged a MAU growth of 13 percent in 2012 but that figure fell by two-thirds of that amount YTD in 2013, to 5 percent per month. This may be indicative of a slowdown in interest for Twitter, which has enjoyed phenomenal growth since its 2006 inception.
News organizations like CNN, ABC News, and others use Twitter as a way to disseminate news items or to instantly provide broadcast alerts to a wide-ranging audience. This allows the public to grab snippets of important news before using their tablet, laptop, or television to learn more about the relevant event. Twitter is also a great way to announce public emergencies. This can prove useful in the event of natural disasters or a terrorist attack. One of the helpful by-products of Twitter was as an organizing tool for the Middle East uprisings in countries like Egypt, dubbed the “Arab Spring.” The use of Twitter allowed protesters to mobilize, display real-time images, and elicit a visceral global response to the proceedings.
Another useful innovation of Twitter is the hashtag (#). The hashtag allows related tweets from users all over the network to be organized and indexed for other users to see. It promotes the micro blog concept of Twitter by keeping messages short and using them to create buzz worthy events. It also works as a promotion tool.
Debate will continue about the usefulness of Twitter as a social networking medium, and the site’s challenge will be to continue to evolve and adapt its use to a changing cultural landscape.
In addition to Twitter and social media, Benjamin Ellinghouse writes on gadgets, mobile phones, accessories such as the kensington ipad covers, software, video games and other neat topics.
Image credit goes to justyna_lam.