HISTORY 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
- Then Twitter is like communicating at a bar
Birth of Twitter
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 on January 15, 2007, as seen below. This was back in the day when Twitter first asked the question: “What are you doing?”
My tweets got more interesting over time. If you have a Twitter account, you can search for your first tweet by visiting here.
Twitter’s Popularization of Hashtags
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 U.S. 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 prophecy, Twitter was broken by the 2008 Academy Awards when the host tweeted a “selfie” with friends that took the Twitter service offline for a few minutes. By 5:00 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.
Follow me at my Twitter feed: twitter.com/billpetro
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian