Currently, Twitter tends to be one of the biggest social media platforms all over the world. As a kind of social media, Twitter allows people to participate in the online community, freely posting their thoughts and communicating with others, and engaging in political issues at the same time. Moreover, companies could use Twitter to promote their products because the number of Twitter users are enormous.
In this essay, I will introduce the history and development of Twitter, how it was built and how it progressed until the present. Besides, I will discuss the business model and strategy that Twitter use, as well as the innovation it had transformed.
Twitter’s Transformation History
Twitter is a worldwide microblogging site which offers people to make short posts regarding different affairs. It was found on March 21, 2006, by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Noah Glass and Evan Williams under Odeo(Meyer, 2019). Dorsey’s original idea of Twitter was to construct a platform based on SMS, and this is why Twitter has a word limit of 140 on each tweet at the beginning, yet in 2017, the word limit was expanded to 280 words to satisfy users’ requirement(MacArthur, 2020).
Twitter’s developing history. YouTube video: Mashable. Some rights reserved.
In 2007, Twitter became an independent company, and Dorsey was assigned to be the CEO of it(Meyer, 2019). The transformation of Twitter had continued after Twitter became a company itself. The first development was in August 2007, four months afterwards, “hashtags” debuted on Twitter(Meyer, 2019). The invention of “hashtag” brought a big effect, which laid the foundation of Twitter’s further close connections to political and social issues. What’s more, different and explicit hashtags also provide a place for people who share the same interests to communicate and make friends.
The “promotion” came out in April 2010(Meyer, 2019). Companies and individuals could pay on Twitter, and Twitter would promote their tweets as advertisements that appear in users’ timeline, or promote other accounts and hashtags. Twitter then, not only gained profits through “promotion” itself but opened up new space for companies to promote their products at the same time. This transformation attracted companies to create Twitter accounts, and the usage of Twitter tends to be the business strategy among industries.
Twitter in Business
The business model demonstrates how companies do business instead of other actions they perform, and it explains “value creation” and “value capture”(Pels, 2015). In particular, the rise of Web 2.0 and social media had transformed the role of consumers, in which they could become “providers” in the digital age rather than “receipts” in the earlier time(Wirtz, 2019). The digital revolution had changed the economic world, and the new business model has emerged under the development of technology and the internet. According to the characteristics of Twitter, “Advertising” and “Data Monetization” are two main business models it pursues.
Unlike the purpose of traditional advertisements which promote the “brand image” to a huge amount of media audiences and maintain the “conversion rate” and “profit margin” permanently, the advertising on digital media is promoted with “low cost”, and better understand “users’ intention”(Liu&Wang, 2020). There are direct ads and indirect ads on social media, and Twitter contains “indirect” ads with “promote a tweet”(Mahoney, 2016), and as Liu and Wang state, “Promoted Tweets” is also considered as a social ad that appears naturally to interactive users.
Twitter gains its profit mainly from “promote a tweet”, where companies spend money on Twitter to achieve a larger number of target audiences and engagement rate for their businesses(Mahoney, 2016). Based on statistics, advertising sales bring nearly 85% of Twitter’s revenue(Das, 2019). Therefore, “promotion” turned into a major way for Twitter to receive money as an advertising business model.
The transmission of human-generated content is a part of DDS(Digital Data Stream), in which a DDS encodes and transmits data that is demonstrated as “a related class of events”(Pigni, 2016). The operation of social networking sites depends on the participation rate of users and the data it produces, so the customer size is pretty crucial in social media(Mahoney, 2016). Data monetization refers to how the revenue is generated from “available data” or “real-time stream data”, which encourages users to engage and allows them to take apart from the revenue(Business Model Toolbox).
Like most social media, Twitter requires people to set up accounts and engage on its platform, and in this case, the engagement of users which producing and contributing thoughts on social media is named “user-generated content”. As for Twitter, tweeting leads to the emergence of data, and once a tweet occurs, it represents an “opinion” or “idea”, streaming and processing in digital form(Pigni, 2016). The collection of data and user-generated content helps Twitter to build its business model and earn money as well.
How powerful is Twitter? YouTube video: NowThis World. Some rights reserved.
Twitter is one of the most powerful among all social media sites both in economy and politics. People from all over the world tend to use Twitter to access news and entertainment, finding friends in the same circle. Besides ordinary users, companies are willing to open Twitter accounts due to its communication method and promotion-friendly strategy in which they could promote their business by paying Twitter under its “Advertising” business model. As Das said in 2019:
Currently, Twitter has more than 328 million monthly active users, making it the ninth-largest social network in the world.
Partnership and collaboration are encouraged, yet there are requirements to meet. To apply the partnership with Twitter, companies need to provide outstanding products as well as possess a certificated track record of consumer success. Two types of partnership are listed on the page of “Partner” on Twitter’s site, which is “Twitter Ads” partners and “Twitter Data” partners respectively. The former category of partners could help agencies and brands to create advertisements with higher quality, while the latter one would offer the opportunity to access historical and real-time data(Twitter).
The biggest competitor tends to be Facebook, which is now the no.1 social network site in the world. Apart from potential social media competitors that are, Facebook, Instagram and others, the transformation to videos and content creators due to advertising on Twitter brings another rival, YouTube(Das, 2019). As for business, Twitter allows the real-time conversation, which brands and the consumer could communicate immediately(Read, 2019), and what Read claims reveal the highlighting characteristics among social media:
Given Twitter’s unique public, immediate and customer service-oriented character, we argue that it is the ideal backdrop to examine consumer engagement with brands, relative to other social media.
As I mentioned the shifting focus to videos let YouTube became another competitor. Although both Twitter and YouTube share revenue with video makers, Twitter could grasp more users because of the high proportion given to creators, with 70% on Twitter, while YouTube offers only 55% to content creators(Das, 2019).
Nevertheless, compared with other social media, Twitter lack in its engagement in recent years. Though the number of users on Twitter is far more than What’s app and Instagram, the engagement and participation rate is declining(Das, 2019). Referring the biggest competitor Facebook, it seemed Twitter could compete with it in earlier periods, yet Facebook had become the most popular social network in the world, while Twitter still at its 9th, losing behind from all aspects(Das, 2019).
Twitter itself contributed a large part in the operation of Twitter. Statistics show that the suppliers of Twitter Inc increased by 10.84% in 2020, the third quarter. For the regulation, according to American Law, the public owns the airwaves, and therefore different broadcastings must obtain a license from the government(Sparknotes). In this case,
“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issues these licenses and is in charge of regulating the airwaves.”
Twitter’s Ecosystem Graph
Impact on Society-#Hashtags
Social media affects society in many ways, including politics, cultures and economy. Particularly with a large number of users, Twitter has a powerful impact on society. The invention of hashtags, as mentioned in former texts, potentially enhance the representation of Twitter in political, economic, social and cultural issues in total, by assigning different thoughts towards the same topic in the community.
The links to websites and hashtags that are included in tweets are a vital part of Twitter’s power to influence.
Unlike other social media, Twitter has great influential power to politics. Starting since 2008, during Barack Obama’s first campaign, Twitter had affected politics(Nguyen, 2017). The online society offers a foundation for every citizen to participate in political issues, yet Twitter plays an important role in its features.
First of all, each post on Twitter is much cheaper to communicate with the public than reaching the same amount of people on the television(Nguyen, 2017), and the interaction on Twitter is a “two-way communication” where stimulating responds and voice(Parmelee&Bichard, 2012). The engagement on Twitter would be a suitable place for politicians and citizens to discuss politics and share ideas. The current most significant impact should be how Trump frequently uses Twitter and posts his thoughts without any consideration, especially after the election of the US president.
Also, hashtags could manipulate people’s views. By inserting hashtags in tweets, it is easy for people to change their point of views by clicking into them as there are different voices under the same topic(Parmelee&Bichard, 2012), which could especially affect politics. In doing so, individuals who have no parties would have a chance to engage in political affairs.
Public politics is not restricted any more to mainstream political institutions and their representatives.
Business and Economy
Nowadays business is influenced by the internet and social networking due to the customer engagement possibility online. Companies could find it convenient to discover consumer needs and complaints on Twitter(Read, 2019), and develop further strategies. The consumer service and resolution could be improved if companies explore “consumer relationship management” under the social media environment(Bhattacharjya, et.al, 2014). Moreover, businesses could promote themselves based on business models of Twitter. By promoting hashtags and advertisements, it would be effortless to target a set of audiences for companies and absorb some new consumers once they pay Twitter money(Sherman, 2020).
Culture and Society
No one would doubt that social media have made possible new ways of ‘being-together’
— Couldry, 2015
Just as the term “social media” implies, social network emerges social transformation. If we claim Facebook as a private media platform to communicate with friends, Twitter then is the “public version” of Facebook, which permit individuals to access other strangers online(Murthy, 2013). Hashtags could bring people together to talk about certain issues, and the possibility for same-thought people to make friends with each other is huge. Twitter is the place that most fandoms fall in as well, and citizens can be connected easily by favouring the same artists or celebrities. In particular, celebrities are also active on Twitter with their accounts, therefore it creates the opportunity for people to directly interact with famous people(Murthy, 2013).
In conclusion, Twitter generates an impact on our society, but the monetization process is still the weakness that might drag Twitter down. The high engagement and bias in politics also make people feel suspicious about the spirit of Twitter when it first came out(Meyer, 2019). From my point of view, Twitter has changed our lives for sure because it connects not only close friends but strangers online together, and this double-side communication affects business strategies as well. I think Twitter should lessen its engagement in politics, and pay more attention to users’ satisfaction and its revenue source to maintain the status and progress permanently.
Bhattacharjya, J., Tripathi, S., Ellison, A., & Kitratporn, N. (2014). Value creation using social media in a virtual business model: how Amazon approaches customer service on twitter.
Business Model Toolbox. Customer Data Monetization. Retrieved from: https://bmtoolbox.net/patterns/customer-data-monetization/
Couldry, N. (2015). The myth of ‘us’: digital networks, political change and the production of collectivity. In Information, Communication & Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2014.979216
Csimarket. Twitter Inc ‘s Suppliers Performance. Retrieved from: https://csimarket.com/stocks/suppliers_glance.php?code=TWTR
Das, S. (2019). How Does Twitter Make Money? Twitter Business Model. Retrieved from: https://www.feedough.com/how-does-twitter-make-money/
Liu, P., & Wang, C. (2020). Overview of Online Advertising. In Computational advertising : market and technologies for internet commercial monetization(Second edition.)(pp. 1-21). CRC Press.
MacArthur, A. (2020). The Real History of Twitter, in Brief. Retrieved from: https://www.lifewire.com/history-of-twitter-3288854
Mahoney, L. (2016). Social Media Business Models. In Strategic Social Media (pp. 161-179). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119370680.ch10
Mashable. (2014). The Illustrated History of Twitter. YouTube. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzRkszaGBbY
Meyer, J. (2019). History of Twitter: Jack Dorsey and The Social Media Giant. Retrieved from: https://www.thestreet.com/technology/history-of-twitter-facts-what-s-happening-in-2019-14995056
Murthy, D. (2013). Twitter : social communication in the Twitter age. Wiley.
Nguyen, M. (2017). Twitter’s Role In Politics. Retrieved from: https://northwesternbusinessreview.org/twitters-role-in-politics-b3ed620465c9
NowThis World. (2016). How Powerful Is Twitter? YouTube. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7Rvt6dD1No&t=19s
Parmelee, J., & Bichard, S. (2012). The Impact of Political Tweets When Used as Word-of-Mouth Communication. In Politics and the Twitter revolution how tweets influence the relationship between political leaders and the public(pp.65-101). Lexington Books.
Pels, J. (2015). Business model innovation. In International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, 9(3), 200–218. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPHM-02-2014-0011
Pigni, F. (2016). Digital Data Streams: Creating Value from the Real-Time Flow of Big Data. In California Management Review, 58(3), 5–25. https://doi.org/10.1525/cmr.2016.58.3.5
Read, W. (2019). Consumer engagement on Twitter: perceptions of the brand matter. In European Journal of Marketing, 53(9), 1905–1933. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-10-2017-0772
Sherman. (2020). The Best Social Media Platforms For Your Business. Retrieved from: https://www.lyfemarketing.com/blog/best-social-media-platforms/
Sparknotes. Government Regulation of the Media. Retrieved from: https://www.sparknotes.com/us-government-and-politics/american-government/the-media/section3/
Twitter. Partner. About the Program. Retrieved from: https://partners.twitter.com/en/about-the-program
Wirtz, B. (2019). Digital Business. In Digital Business Models Concepts, Models, and the Alphabet Case Study. Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-13005-3