Once upon a time, there was such a thing as a house phone, one where you would have to ask “is Sally home?” and “can you let her know I called?” It was a time when sharing your vacation photos didn’t have anything to do with a Cloud, but instead meant waiting a week for them to get developed. FaceTiming meant grabbing coffee with each other, and the only cookies you had to clear were the ones fresh out of the oven. Ah, those were the days...Flash forward to today, 2016: welcome web 2.0… The days of streaming, liking, pinning, posting, and, maybe most importantly, tweeting. Twitter, the micro-blogging social media platform that first came on the scene back in 2006 thanks to Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass, all started with this:
@jack "just setting up my Twitter"
In the ten years since, the platform has gained over 316 million active users with some 500 million tweets sent per day. The numbers speak volumes to the success of the platform, but it isn’t just users that make Twitter impressive… It’s the way that it has actually changed the way we communicate, utilize the internet, and consume information.
Twitter has touched everything we do, from business, to reading the news, to the way we share our lives with one another. It has put importance to the once mundane, and made us realize that maybe all we ever needed to share our thoughts was 140 characters and a keyboard.
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Remember having to ‘please stay on the line for the next available customer service representative’? Trying to be heard by a business was nearly impossible. By the time you got to speak to a real person, half your day was gone. Twitter changed that. Now, customers are able to tweet to their favorite (or not-so-favorite) businesses with any issues, comments, or concerns they may have… And they don’t just expect a response, they expect it fast. We feel more connected than ever thanks to the instant gratification we get when reaching out to companies on a public platform.
Daina Middleton, head of Global Business Marketing at Twitter, told me in a recent conversation that in Japan, customers make reservations to restaurants through their tweets. Yes, that’s right folks, you can actually be in the middle of Instagramming your #ThrowbackThursday pic while reserving your table at Benihana. Ah, if only this miracle would make its way to the States.
At Bank of America, their @BoA_help account allows customers to tweet in their problems and complaints, while the company’s team of service representatives guide them to answers or direct them to the correct employee. Twitter has become a must-have for any business’ customer service plan, and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
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Twitter isn’t just used by the general population or brands and businesses. It’s a major platform for news sites, TV stations, and papers. Breaking news can spread faster in a 140-character tweet than it can in almost any format. Because of this, along with the fact that anyone and everyone can sign up for a Twitter account, a whole new type of news has come into play: citizen journalism.
It was Janis Krums back in 2009 that captured this photo of US Airways Flight 1549 after Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III landed the plane in the Hudson River. The photo was shared with his 170 followers, and quickly landed on CNN, among other world news organizations. Since then, seeing citizens’ personal photos or tweets on news stations is commonplace, and has proven to add a unique first hand account to any story.
Twitter has also become the go-to place for celebrities and politicians across the world to make announcements, clear up rumors, share statements, and interact with fans. Everyone from President Obama (with 3.99 million followers), Beyonce (14.1 million followers), to Pope Francis (7.04 million followers) have a Twitter account. Remember when Ellen tweeted a selfie at the Academy Awards in 2013? It broke the record of most ret weets with over 3,338,972 shares.
Television as a shared viewing experience is nothing new. Sitting in the living room with friends and family to watch the latest episode of your favorite show has been going on for decades (think I Love Lucy in the 1950’s.) Now, with Twitter, that experience transcends the living room, even your town, state, or country. TV has become a shared experience by everyone… As long as they’re logged in to Twitter, that is.
In 2013, 70% of tweets about TV shows were sent during the actual broadcast window. This new way of viewing has allowed marketers to look at advertising in a different way. Hashtags, which were just a pound sign before Twitter, have become a way for fans to create community through the site and classify their tweets with other viewers. Can you imagine a world with no #MotivationMonday, #ToastyTuesday, #WednesdayWisdom, #TBT, or #FlashbackFriday? Me neither.