There’s new meaning to the phrase, “a little bird told me…” Twitter, the social networking and micro-blogging service describes itself as “a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” But Twitter has gone far beyond friends, family and co-workers.
If you want to know what President Obama is doing right now, you can log on to his Twitter site at twitter.com/BarackObama. If you wanted to ask the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs a question about the war with Hamas, you could have logged onto that Twitter account on December 30, 2008 for their worldwide Twitter press conference. Businesses use Twitter to provide product and service information to their customers. News sources use it to disseminate breaking news. Celebrities use it to communicate with their fans. Universities use it to send information to their students. And on November 28, 2008, CNN announced that it was “the day that social media appeared to come of age” when Twitter was used by victims, bystanders, and the public to generate news and coordinate responses to the Mumbai siege.
If you set up an account on twitter.com, you can send and read other users’ updates (known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters or less. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends and users can receive updates via the Twitter website, SMS, RSS, or through a number of other applications. You can even “tag” a tweet if you have an area of specific interest. To follow FMPR on Twitter, see our FMPR Twitter page.
How popular is Twitter and how fast is it growing? Wikipedia says that in November 2008, Twitter had between four and five million users. By February 2009, that number grew to roughly six million with the number of monthly visitors at 55 million, making Twitter the third largest social network behind Facebook and MySpace.
There you have it, another way to reach out to your publics. We particularly like Twitter because the micro-blogging 140-character limit doesn’t take up much time on the writer and reader end. For a great primer on Twitter, check out Caroline Middlebrook’s “The Big Juicy Twitter Guide.” And then jump in your online tree and tweet away!