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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

To Tweet or Not to Tweet


First it was Instant Messaging, then Blogging and the rise of Social Networks and now the latest craze to hit cyberspace is Twitter – a real-time micromessaging service that allows people to instantly communicate with a group individuals who choose to follow, for any number of reasons, their thoughts or activities.
Twitter is the brainchild of author Jack Dorsey (@Jack), and although it’s only been around in its current form since 2006, Dorsey and co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone’s simple application is on target, according to, to be the most-rapidly growing Member Community phenomenons for the foreseeable future.
Drawing from the Short Message Service (SMS) platform, Twitter allows people to post “tweets” – little bursts of text-based content that communicates status updates and, on occasion, “pearls of wisdom” - to a network of followers on the Twitter website, and the subsequently SMS devices and other external applications. Due to size limitations dictated by SMS devices (most basic cell phones were constrained to160 characters before a short message was split) Dorsey choose to limit a tweet to 140 characters leaving 20 characters for the user name. Best of all, Twitter is currently a free service, and all indications are that it will remain that way.
The ubiquitousness of cell phone capable of receiving SMS has fueled Twitter’s remarkable growth.. But a study published on the Harvard Business Publishing website June 1, 2009 presents a fascinating set of conclusions. Examining a random sampling of 300,000 Twitter users, the survey found that a small percentage (10%) account for the majority of tweets (90%). The suggestion here is that Twitter is more of a one-way (or one-to-many) communication network as opposed to a peer-to-peer social network. Also the survey concluded that more men follow tweets posted by other men than tweets posted by women. There is a certain reverse voyeurism implied by this conclusion than can be explained by the fact that Twitter is a text-based application – no photos allowed. The survey also concluded that more women than men have signed up on Twitter.
So the question remains, “Is Twitter right for you?” Harvard’s survey aside, by focusing on specific interests, Twitter can be an excellent means for local networking and viral marketing. Well-composed tweets can inform followers to breaking news and tweets have even been used in criminal investigations. The great thing about Twitter is that anyone can follow anyone else’s tweets. There are very few restrictions. To find out how Twitter works, create an account and search for subjects that interest you. If you are willing to tweet rather than follow, answer one simple question (“what are you doing”) and see what happens.

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