Shawn Nesaw

Last month, the social networking site Twitter celebrated its 5th year of public use. Twitter reached popularity as it helped track wildfire updates in California, free an American student from an Egyptian jail, find gas during a shortage in Atlanta, track Mumbai terrorist attacks, and even break the news of the US Airways plane crash on the Hudson.

David Wells, Jr. Marketing Specialist/ Photographer

If you don’t know what people are talking about when they use words like tweeting, following, hashtag (#), mentions (@) or trending in the same sentence, you may not know exactly what Twitter is. Twitter is a social networking site that allows users to send short status updates to their friends – called followers. Users can also choose to follow other people—consisting of their friends, celebrities, companies and brands they like, TV shows and more. The status updates are generally 140 characters or less in length, but many tweets provide links to longer posts, websites, videos or other related content.
Recently Twitter surpassed 200 million users. The Women’s World Cup soccer match featuring the United States against Japan broke the ‘Tweets per second’ (TPS) record; the total number of tweets sent out across the entire platform. A record of 7,196 tweets per second were sent out at the end of the exciting and nail-biting match. In comparison, at the end of the 2011 Superbowl, a mere 4,064 TPS were sent.
Twitter grew rapidly in the past five years. In 2007, 400,000 tweets were posted per quarter, growing to 100 million tweets per quarter in 2008, and in February 2010, over 50 million tweets were being sent per day. Today, twitter users send over 200 million tweets each day.
Who uses Twitter?
Since the end of 2010, total Twitter users nearly doubled. According to an infographic created by Digital Surgeons, 55% of Twitter users are female with 45% male. The 26 to 44 age group makes up 57% of users. Of those who follow a brand, 67 purchase that specific brand—showing action. Some of our favorite top Twitter-using brands include Chevrolet, Southwest, Old Spice, Carnival, Home Depot and Starbucks. These top-name brands have great twitter strategies that engage their audience including customer service responses, tips, deals and insights to their brand.
Social media is a multiplatform tool to engage an audience and could include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, Flickr, FourSquare and more, depending on the goals and objectives of the strategy. It is increasingly more important for brands and businesses to have a clear and consistent message for their target audience across all platforms. The good news is, tools and applications are making this easier by allowing integration of the same messages across multiple platforms. For example, TweetDeck is an application that allows you to post updates to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FourSquare all at the same time. This ensures consistent messaging across your platforms. Also, Facebook posts can automatically link to your twitter account allowing your followers to be directed to your other social media platforms. Social media icons and links are showing up in print ads, television ads and even radio.
Social media, even though it’s still a new medium, allows businesses and brands to reach a broader audience in new ways, and those who are implementing good strategies are really seeing the benefits pay off.