Twitter Tweetering Out or Soaring To New Heights?

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Twitter's popularity continues to grow, but the challenge is to find ways to be profitable without Spamming users.

Twitter this, Twitter that – what’s all the fuss about?

What’s in 140 characters? A lot, if you are one of the approximately 15 million Twitterers out there.  To the uninitiated, Twitter can seem like a pointless endeavor that begs the question, “Do I really care what so-and-so had for lunch?”  Regardless the camp you find yourself in, Twitter has gained significant ground in the battle for Time Spent Online (TSO).

So what is Twitter? In essence, Twitter provides a platform in which short (up to 140 characters) messages, called “Tweets,” that are shared via the Twitter site with those people who are following you.  Tweets can be sent via text messaging from most cell phones (check your plan for costs) and from the twitter site. There are also many apps for Facebook, MySpace and the like that allow you to update your status as you update Twitter.

Who uses the site? Twitter has seen a recent surge in popularity with the 35+ demographic due partially to the celebrity following (Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, Obama, CNN, etc.) and also from the awareness created via the aftermath of the Iranian presidential “elections” in June (more on this later).  However, as you can imagine most Twitter users fall in the 18-34 age range and can be considered super users. These super users are also more interested than other social networking site users in news, sports, politics, restaurants, personal finance and religion. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well amongst Twitterers and are more likely to use the service to promote their blog or business.  Twitterers are more likely to use other social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and others but when asked if they can live without Twitter, 43% of respondents (all age groups) said they could live without it.

Twitter as a political tool. The Obama presidential campaign planned to use Twitter to announce their choice of VP – but network news scooped the story and got it to press before the Tweets could be sent. Even though the Tweets came a bit late, the Obama campaign’s use of the source was a clever move to attract the support of the young, techno-savvy generation that helped get him elected.  Obama continues to use the service and has more than 1,753,000 followers and follows nearly 770,000 people.  If Obama himself has ever actually Tweeted is up for debate but one thing is for certain; he understands the need to engage the younger demographic through the same means they use everyday. Twitter and other social networking utilities will continue to play a major role in the political process and  you can bet that savvy candidates will be on the lookout for new trends in social networking.

What about Iran? You don’t have to be a news junkie to know that the events surrounding the hotly contested Iranian elections held in June and the following flood of protests (and human suffering) have plunged Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the like into the limelight again.  We all know that the Internet is a great way to network and communicate in ways never thought of previously, but up until the events in Iran, social networking tools were just that – fun and convenient ways to share our lives with friends and colleagues.  The truth is, the vast majority of people really only use the Internet for shameless self-promotion (I am certainly no different).  However,  seeing how a repressed people living under a ruthless dictator and a merciless ruling party used the Internet to let the whole world know the reality of their situation has enlightened the true potential of the increasingly connected world in which we live.  That being said, there is still much to learn and as with all things “Internet” nothing will stay the same.  It is hard to say what will be come of Twitter, but I can tell you this, social networking is here to stay.

By the way… you can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jerodschaefer.

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