History of Twitter: The Social Tool at Eight Years

twitter logo.jpgHISTORY OF TWITTER

“I don’t get it”

…is the phrase I frequently hear when I talk to people about Twitter. This micro-blogging service is one of the more unique and most difficult to explain of the social technologies — a “presence” tool that broadcasts “what are you doing” to friends and strangers alike, anyone who “follows” you, in 140 characters or less.

I won’t explain it now — though I’ve written about it elsewhere — except to provide this metaphor:

  • If Facebook is like communicating at a bar-b-que
  • Twitter is like communicating at a bar

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey or as he’s known by his Twitter handle @jack sent his first Tweet according to the Twitter blog. Now, there is a “hashtag” or subject tracking tag related to this event: #Twitter7

With celebrity adoption of this social platform, it is now becoming the universal address where you can find some people. Mine is @billpetro

My first tweet was January 15, 2007 as seen below. This was back in the day  when Twitter asked the question: “What are you doing?”

My tweets got more interesting over time. If you have a Twitter account you can see your first tweet by clicking here: discover.twitter.com/first-tweet

The increasing use of hashtags, those #tags that give threads their vitality, means Twitter is a companion when watching the #Oscars on TV or one is following the launch of the latest #iPad. There are rumors that Twitter may be looking at ways to cut back on all the @ signs and # hashtags that can be confusing for first-time users.

With somewhere between half a billion and a billion registered user accounts — about 241 million are active monthly users — Twitter is one of the most popular one-to-many social platforms. It follows Facebook in size and unique monthly visitors and Twitter is followed in size by LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+. As a US company most of the users and most of the tweets originate here, with 50 million users in America or about 15% of the population, expecting to reach 20% of the population by 2018. The largest core is the key 18-24 demographic, though a good percentage of growth is expected to come from older users. Twitter captures 2.6% of global mobile ad revenue, while Google has 46.8% and Facebook has 21.7%.

In an interesting self-fulfilling prophesy Twitter was broken at the 2014 Academy Awards when the host tweeted a “selfie” with friends that took the Twitter service offline for a few minutes. By 5 am the next day it has been retweeted 2.4 million times, more than any other tweet in history. Tweets about the Oscars were viewed by over 3.3 billion times worldwide.

Here is an interesting infographic, showing a demographic cross section of Twitter users.


Follow me at my Twitter feed: twitter.com/billpetro

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

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About billpetro

Bill Petro has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.


  1. @seconddrafts on March 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I’ve heard it said that Facebook is for keeping up with the people you went to high school with, whereas Twitter is for keeping up with the people you WISH you went to high school with. Kind of sums it up for me (though I follow you both places, Bill).

    • Bill Petro on March 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks for the comment, I like it!

      Merryl Streep once said in a college commencement speech: “You have been told that Real Life is not like college, and you have been correctly informed. Real Life is more like high school.”


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