We all know it. We’ve all heard of it. Most of us already have an account on there. The mascot, the little blue bird, is easily recognized as an icon. It is without a doubt my favorite social media platform of all time, with Pinterest coming in a close second.
Before I talk about the basic gist of Twitter, I think it only makes sense to give a little background info. Ten years ago, a team of employees at Odeo, Inc. (including key players @Noah, @Dom, and @Jack), a podcasting company in South Park, San Francisco, were in quite of a Catch-22 when Apple burst into the scene with the launch of iTunes podcasting. They needed to reinvent themselves, and FAST.
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, comes up with the innovative idea of “a dispatch service that connects us on our phones using text” (Sagolla, 2009). He, @Florian, and @Biz, managed by @Noah, created version 0.1, entirely web-based…thus, on March 21, 2006, twttr, as it was called, was born and the very first tweet was made.
In the beginning, the site was permitted for use only by the company and their immediate families; no other companies were allowed to join (Sagallo, 2009). The name derived from American shortcodes being only 5 characters, and before the familiar 40404 it is associated with now, the shortcode was 10958. The option to make an account private was incorporated when twttr only had about 100 users. The website itself has been through changes, physical and internal; Twictionary was created to assign terminology to various aspects of the site. Twttr Beta was launched, then Odeo Inc. was declining in relevancy; resulting in @Dom, @Adam, @TonyStubblebine, @Rabble, @Noah, and @TimRoberts being let go and twttr.com launching to the public.
The website was still in its budding stages at this point. Odeo turned into Obvious Corp. and acquired what is now twitter.com (before it became its own company in 2007). Keeping the 160-character text message limit in mind, the character limit of 140 was set “in order to leave room for the username and the colon in front of the message” (Sagallo, 2009).
In 2007, Twitter would really begin to take off when it made its national debut at SxSW; where streams of tweets would be seen on plasma screens throughout the festival. The site went on to win the award in the Blog category, then debuts at Apple’s WWDC of the same year, then print, TV, and Cable news follow suit in joining the new phenomenon. By this time, especially with each new feature added, the number of users and amount of usage was MULTIPLYING at a rapid pace. From this point on, Twitter would blossom into the 2nd biggest social networking website in the world, with 320 million users as of December 31, 2015.
Bonus: Take a look at this blast from the past, when Twitter was in its baby stages. Reading the comments, especially the first one, makes me giggle just knowing that those who said it would never work are eating their words!
So You Want To Be A Tweeter?!
The major reason that Twitter is such a smash hit is because of its ease of use. Here’s how to get started:
- Setting up an account is a piece of cake. All you need is an email address and a username of your choice. It can be your full name, a nickname, or anything, really. Your username speaks volumes so let your personality shine!
- Next step is to edit your profile. This will include your display picture, bio, location, personal website, and your join date. You can fill out just one section if you want, but it is highly recommended that you fill in every section so other users can find you.
- Finally, the most important step – follow people! If you are stumped, start by following your favorite celebrities. Search your interests and follow people who you share these interests with. Follow people in your area. You can connect your email address or your address book to find friends and family who are already on! The possibilities are endless.
With these three simple steps completed, now you are ready to tweet!
Now I know what you’re probably thinking…”WHY the heck would I really want to make a Twitter account? I don’t want the universe knowing that I’m hungry! Is this really what people use it for?! How pointless!” True, it seems like this was all what Twitter was a decade ago…but throughout the years, it has evolved into much more than just a site where you can tell your friends and family that you’re currently eating a sandwich (unless it’s from @Subway, then you’ll probably get a coupon for 10% off your next order). Celebrities use it to update their fans on their next tour dates, their newest movie roles, and the like. Small businesses and mega corporations are using it to keep their fans in the know of what’s going on with the company. Many people are using Twitter as their go-to news source with companies like @CNN, @nytimes, and @HuffingtonPost providing breaking news in real-time around the world. If you’re like me and love to save money, you can even find deals with your favorite shops or restaurants! Pretty neat, right? Here are a few examples of organizations using Twitter in some of the most creative ways possible to create content, engage with their fans, and more.
Coca-Cola, my favorite soda and yours, is always coming up with creative ways to market their brand and engage with their fans. This example from 2011 proves no different. In partnership with Ogilvy Argentina, Twitter users sent tweets cheering on Argentina in Copa America 2011 with the hashtag #HinchadaCocaCola. Two million tweets were printed out and blasted into the air from cannons as confetti at the event as the players made their entrance, all filled with encouraging content created by the fans. Why was this campaign successful?
- “They used a current event to their advantage,
- Sent content in a fun and playful way,
- Used creativity to connect with their audience, and
- Involved current customers at a live event” (Guest Author, 2014)
You love sales, right? Do you also love pizza? You’re gonna love this.
Domino’s UK started a clever campaign in 2012 during the lunch hour, where with every tweet that included the hashtag #letsdolunch, the company would drop £0.01 off the price of their most popular pizza. The result? The price was reduced from £15.99 to £7.74 (Guest Author, 2014). In short, perfect timing + the love of pizza + major savings = a win-win for everybody!
Picture this: It’s a hot sunny day in New York City. You decide to visit a park because you want to relax on your day off. After half an hour, you begin to regret not taking a water bottle because the sweltering heat is starting to get to you. You can’t go on any further…until Evian comes to the rescue!
On August 19-21, the company created the hashtag #Evianbottleservice for users to tweet. With every tweet to Evian that described their location, two teams were at play: Evian’s community managers, social media agency Team Epiphany, and staffers from PR firm Edelman responding to these tweets, and brand ambassador assigned to meet the tweeters at their location within 5 to 7 to give them a free bottled water. These efforts were paired with “Promoted Tweets to target ZIP codes around the neighborhoods to amplify real-time efforts” (Johnson, 2014).
Between August 15-21, Evian scored a huge number of followers, mentions, and praise before, during, and after the campaign. So, it is safe to say that it blew the competition out of the water (pun intended).
There is no escaping Twitter. No matter what changes it goes through, there is no doubt that it’s here to stay. Now that you know a little about this juggernaut of social media, take a look at an infographic on how you can gain more followers and generally succeed in Twitter without really trying (this may or may not be a musical pun).
Johnson, L. (2014, September 5). Evian’s Real-Time Marketing Reaps Big Social Stats. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/evians-real-time-marketing-reaps-big-social-stats-159898