Social Media-based Assignment B – By Jessica Fantella (3822088) & Celeste Kellie (3917794)


What is Twitter?

Twitter is a real-time social media platform that allows its users to connect instantaneously in 140 characters or less.  It allows users to share pictures, links to other pages, news and general information.  It is used socially and by businesses all around the globe.  These “SMS’s of the internet” are referred to as “tweets”.

History of Twitter:

Twitter was started off by Odeo Inc. San Francicso, USA.  They had a team of people who broke off into smaller groups and commenced a day-long brainstorming session. Initially, Twitter was used for internal communication for Odeo Inc. employees before it became its own company in April 2007.  It was launched publically on 15 July, 2006.

Jack Dorsey, Executive Chairman of Twitter and Noah Glass are among a group of people who are said to be the creators of Twitter.  However, according to Noah Glass it is a story highlighted with some controversy and Noah is scarcely viewed as the co-founder that he claims he is.

@Jack was said to be an innovative group where Jack was first quoted “I want to have a dispatch service that connects us on our phones using text”  and on March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey aka @Jack sent the first tweet: “just setting up my twttr.” The project gained momentum and work commenced on Twitter on 31 March, 2006.

The name Twitter was initially twttr which was the five letter code for the SMS style of the platform.  The name was also inspired by Flickr, an image and video sharing site and among other names that were considered are: FriendStalker and Dodgeball.

Some say it was by chance and others say it was in search of a definition that they found the perfect description of the word “twitter,” and it was just perfect. The definition is “a short burst of inconsequential information,” and “chirps from birds.” And that’s exactly what the product was.  This is when the logo under went a redesign and focused on their iconic bird symbol as part of their new business model.  They named the bird Larry after an NBA team in America.
Adoption of Twitter and its growth has seen the numbers from the impact of Twitter explode as social media continue to heighten users online experience.

In 2007, around 5,000 tweets were sent per day, with that increasing to 300,000 messages per day in 2008. The number of tweets sent last year grew by 1,400 per cent, to around 35 million per day, and that figure now stands at:

Thus, making Twitter one of the 10 most visited sites on the Internet, today.

From humble beginnings of a group brain-storming session, today Twitter has over 900+ staff and they’re always looking for more people to employ, across a broad range of sectors.

This social media platform has continued to grow and succeed, so much so that Facebook offered to buy twitter out for 500 million dollars of its stock, after only two years after its development was made public.  Probably a good thing that Twitter declined the offer as Twitter continues to boom the growth of Twitter outweighed that of Facebook.  Although, some believe that Twitter may have already peaked causing it to have an ephemeral existence in the world of social media.

Forms of Interaction:

The way users interact on Twitter, is quite extraordinary. Any user found on the site can be contacted by using their username in a tweet (e.g. @aplusk) accompanied by a message. This will show up in their ‘Mentions’ under the ‘Connect’ tab. A person does not even have to be following that person to be able to contact them. Yet to private message a user, you have to have them following you, regardless if you follow them or not.

Users can reply to each other’s mentions and ‘expand’ a tweet to view comments made before and after in relation to the original tweet, as well as the quantity and usernames of the people who retweeted the tweet.

e.g. Expanded conversation

Retweet is when a user highlights an interesting tweet and shares it with their followers, displayed on their timeline as the original users tweet (with reference to who shared it). Retweets are a very efficient way of gaining momentum and followers, as the original tweet gets metaphorically passed around between groups of people who are not necessarily following the original user.

Another way to gain awareness of your profile is to use hash tags, which when pressed navigate you to all the tweets that include that same hash tag. It is particularly useful when a user wants to find out news or opinions from people who they may not be following.

Given the 140 characters or less format of Twitter, users who have a lot to say can find it difficult to get their point across and basically interact effectively with their followers and the public sphere. One of the most efficient ways to bypass this issue is to use sites such as which provide short URL’s (uniform resource locater) to place in a tweet to link the user to another page which provides more information for the reader. Other sites can also be used to compliment Twitter, providing the ability to share photos and videos.

Novel Features:

One of the novel features of Twitter is the ability to save tweets as “Favourites” for future reference, whether it is other users or your own.  Lists may also be used by a user, to pile together a group of users to a separate timeline specifically containing that list of people.

As Twitter was running before Facebook had introduced Fan Pages, it can be stated that Twitter was one of the initial sites that changed the way businesses interacted with their consumers. The instant nature of tweeting and replying allows feedback, both positive and negative, to reach the company’s awareness. A rapport can be made between companies and consumers which can dramatically increase the customer base and provide an easy and effective form of advertising straight to the masses.

#sp usually indicates a sponsored tweet

Also on the business side of Twitter, is the ability to be approached to have sponsored tweets, where the tweeter advertises a product or service that they are being paid to promote. Usually found with users that have an extremely higher than average follower count (regardless of if they are a celebrity or not). Of course this depends on whether the user agrees to endorse these products for profit.

Differences to other Social Media:

Possibly what makes Twitter so innovative compared to other social media platforms, is the “Trends” side bar, which contains topics/sentences that have the highest rate of tweets instantaneously in real time. Users are able to change their Trends settings to show the top topics in either worldwide, by country, city or tailored for the individual user by picking information from their location and who they follow.

Highest trending topics at one given moment

Users with the highest amount of Retweets for a trending topic are also given priority when that topic is clicked, by being a Top Tweet and having their tweet displayed above the real-time tweets. This gains the user an incredible amount of exposure to other users and is one of the fastest ways to build followers.

Top Tweet, followed by other tweets using the trending Hash Tag topic

The Trends board has a number of functions. Usually it is the instantaneous breaking of news, as users see the trend, they may tweet about it, which increases the trends tweet count from city level, to national and then possibly worldwide.  Other tendencies of the trends is for fan bases to circulate tweets about their idol to show their devotion and personal anecdote starters that (practically) everyone can be involved in, which can have people tweeting about it for days, prolonging its trend life.

Twitter has changed the way people receive their news. Instead of reading the morning paper with a coffee, people are logging on to Twitter and reading straight away, right from the source (trends, followed accounts or even the Twitter accounts of the mass media) the information that they desire. Although a lot of social media platforms inevitably borrow ideas and features from one another, Twitter remains an ideal place for connecting with users and news stories/trends than any other competition.

*tweet tweet*