Image showing Connectedness of Twitter to the Globe (Source: https://cellularnews.com/)
Twitter has emerged as a popular social media platform that is used by millions across the globe from computers, tablets, and phones to transmit ideas and information. The key advantage of Twitter is that it enables targeted communication such that official statements can be conveyed confidently by individuals, organizations, companies, and governments. Basically, Twitter harnesses the interconnectivity of various internet platforms and technologies. In that regard, a critical analysis on Twitter will be outlined within the scope of internet ecology to determine the transformative effects it has had on social communication, politics, economy, and cultures. Essentially, the operations of Twitter will be covered alongside history and internet ecology.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social networking site that is referred to as a microblogging system used for sending and receiving Tweets. Tweets are short posts conveyed across Tweeter and are always allows a maximum of 140 characters (Forsey, 2019). The limit of characters was in favor of brief SMS messaging which ensures that the communication is accurate and precise. To this day, the Twitter platform is used by marketers, reporters, PR teams, and individuals (Kwak et al., 2010). Normally, Twitter users establish an audience by following other users and also being followed by interested parties. Once a Tweet is posted, it is viewed by the followers who can retweet, like, or share the post to be viewed by additional followers. As such, Twitter has become one of the fast ways to break news globally for media houses, companies, and prominent individuals (Ahmad, 2010). Concerning the following, one can follow items and people of like interest in academics, politics, economy, general public movement, and policymakers.
The historical beginnings of Twitter
Twitter as a social media platform was founded back in the year 2006 based on a computer programming language known as Ruby on Rails. The programming language had an interface that allowed the integration and open adaptation of other online services (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2020). The development of the system took the initial initiatives of Evan Williams and Biz Stone. The duo first worked for Google then quitted to start Odeo, a podcasting venture. At that time, Williams began experimenting with Twitter, a short message service (SMS), as Odeo’s side project. Latter, William, who had bought Odeo was joined by Engineer Jack Dorsey who completed the version of Twitter which was launched in March 2007 at the Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas . A month after the launch, Twitter, Inc. was founded as a corporate entity.
Image showing the first tweet by Jack Dorsey (Source: Dokadia, 2020)
The primary inception of Twitter was the provision of free SMS platform with elements of networking. Consequently, the beginnings had no feature of revenue stream since there was no provision of banner advertisement and membership fees which can generate any income. As such, the company relied on venture capital from investors to run its operations which was registering an increasing number of users and visitors. For instance, by 2009, the records stood at a 1,300% increase in new users since the launching (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2020). Such a huge rise in users stimulated curiosity concerning revenue generation and by 2010, Twitter introduced Promoted Tweets which were paid adverts meant to appear in the search results.
From humble beginnings, Twitter recorded its first explosive growth of users in 2007 following the South By Southwest conference in which the number of tweets sent was over 60,000 (Dokadia, 2020). Since then, the company has grown in popularity among individuals, celebrities, politicians, leaders, and athletes who use Twitter to communicate faster rather than media outlets. As Forsey (2019) reports, Twitter records 100 million users each day and over 500 million tweets. Today, Twitter is preferred for following high-profile people and events globally. For instance, the Covid-19 pandemic aspects dominate Twitter as well as the issues with US elections. At the local levels, Twitter serves as a countries point of communication and sharing updates.
Twitter’s revolutionary business model
Twitter resembles other social networks when it comes to the operational structure except for certain unique features which make it stand out. The company is owned by Jack Dorsey who is the CEO and investors including The Vanguard Group, Inc., Morgan Stanley, BlackRock Fund Advisors Inc., SSgA Funds Management, Inc., and ClearBridge Investments LLC. To start using Twitter one needs to create an account preferably known as a Twitter handle. Once registered, the user creates a profile and begins posting tweets immediately. Currently, the tweets, which are posts of short status updates, can be up to a maximum of 280 characters (Das, 2019). For registered users, they can post as well as read other posts. At the same time, the platform allows unregistered users to access the services, but with a restriction of only being able to read tweets. To post tweets, users can do so through the website, Twitter app, or using SMS (Das, 2019). The SMS service allows users to share on Twitter via phone text messaging services hence increasing the convenience level.
Image showing Twitter profile view (Source: twitter.com)
Meanwhile, Twitter users can follow other accounts and get an opportunity to view the respective tweets. At the same time, users can also get followers which always bespeaks the extent of networking in the system. Most importantly, users get to choose who to follow depending on their profiles and interest. As such, Twitter allows the filtering of the audience for targeted communication. Therefore, the users can only get the information they require from the desired source and also communicate to the correct audience (Bulearca & Bulearca, 2010). Through tweets, users can share images, videos, and links. Additionally, Twitter has a direct message provision by which users can send and receive messages between two parties, thus promoting information privacy in case of sensitivity.
Twitter allows text and banner advertisement services for users who are wishing to promote products and services on the platform (Curran et al., 2011). In the recent past, the company has shifted focus to video content marketing based on the fact that visual engagement attracts high attention. As an incentive, Twitter shares revenue with the video markers at the rate of 70% which is better than YouTube’s 55%. Moreover, Twitter now offers live stream services to event organizers globally. By using Twitter advertisers can gain a global reach fast and connect with the audience in real-time. Furthermore, users can access data from Twitter for purposes of analysis and the making of business, political, or academic decisions.
Twitter’s internet ecology
According to Looi (2001), internet ecology refers to an organized system in which agents interact based on information technologies to support and influence one another concerning operations. In the present case, Twitter situates itself as a figurehead within the social networking and advertising industry. The platform provides an opportunity for users to keep their followers updated with every passing development (Hofer & Aubert, 2013). For instance, companies can prepare the public for a new product launch via Twitter. At the same time, various formats of advertisements are available which makes Twitter be a major competitor within the social media marketing and communication industries.
Other social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Inc. are the major competitors in the industry with elaborate interaction and marketing services (Wang, 2010). Essentially, these competing platforms have a high number of users and offer identical services including social networking and promotional opportunities. As such, they can serve as perfect alternatives. Other competitors online include LinkedIn, Reddit, Quora, Tumblr, and WhatsApp (Lin et la., 2014). These offer the same services as Twitter but are focused on either networking or social media marketing but not both. Therefore, they form the part of minor competitors in the industry. The other competitor to be noted is ByteDance.
The core suppliers of Twitter are its users who rent space for the promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends (Dijck, 2011). At the same time, the users bespeak the popularity of the site based on numbers and the extent of activeness. To allow ads targeting, Twitter has embraced data partners such as Acxiom and Datalogix. Other partners include Curalate, Jebbit, VidMob, Vidsy, Animoto, and Social Native. Concerning regulation, Twitter is regulated in major jurisdictions such as the US, EU, and Australia. The regulatory bodies are concerned with professional standards, privacy and security, and financial control.
Transformative Impact of Twitter
The key transformative impact that Tweeter has had on the internet is the evolvement of communication tools. Initially, the services were all about social connection but later emerged as a useful communication channel. After the 2009 CNN award to actor Ashton Kutcher as the first person to cross the million mark in Twitter followers, the platform attracted the curiosity of other celebrities, businesses, and political figures (Starbird, 2017). The services provided were conducive for celebrities to grow a global following and boost popularity. Meanwhile, businesses send tweets about promotions and key events to improve customer relations. Moreover, political campaigns dominated Twitter with the candidates taking to the platform to engage supporters by posting rally dates and airing agendas. For instance, the US 2008 presidential elections analysis showed that Barack Obama had more followers on Twitter more than his key opponent and so emerged stronger. Consequently, candidates saw the essence of social media presence with Twitter such that the subsequent campaigners included it as an important media strategy. As such, Twitter has made high profile personalities to view the internet as a point of making or breaking reputation.
Twitter has also transformed how the world handles journalism. The system moved from a simple hobby of socializing to a key source of the latest news across the globe. For instance, the 2009 story of US Airways Flight 1549 landing on the Hudson River was broken by amateur footage that was uploaded on Twitter by a commuter ferry passenger (Murthy, 2011). In the subsequent years, more hot news was disseminated via Twitter including politics, elections, security, businesses, research, education, finance, natural disasters, and military activities. Essentially, Twitter has been relaying news on up-to-the-second events which overrides the political borders of nations for concealing information. At the same time, professional journalists and media houses use Twitter to communicate breaking news. As such, the platform has become more formal compared to others like Facebook. Consequently, Twitter has changed the perception of the world concerning the authenticity of the internet especially social media content (Coen et al., 2016). Therefore, if it is tweeted then it’s official.
Image showing the Hudson landing tweet that broke the news to the world (source: Forsey, 2019)
Meanwhile, Twitter has transformed the economy by having an impact on businesses and customers. Through the platform, businesses can communicate to customers directly thus allowing an opportunity for interaction (Zang et al., 2011). Such connection ensures that the consumer complaints are handled and sales improved. Moreover, Twitter has advertisement services that help businesses with promotions whereas consumers get a chance to know products. Other than the economy, Twitter has also impacted cultural growth through wide socialization (Lee & Kim, 2014). The platform allows global interception and sharing of cultures which is essential for appreciating different ways of life.
In conclusion, Twitter has been an influence of social media entity that has aided internet transformation. The Company which started as a small trial of SMS sending to friends has exploded into a global platform for official internet communications, business promotions, and high-tech newswire. Because of the position of Twitter in the social networking industry, people can look on to the internet for meaningful communications on their preferences and dignitaries share official updates instantly and faster. As such, economic growth and political stability are enhanced. About culture and economy, Twitter has aided cultural transformation by enabling sharing.
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