Social networking sites have become one of the most popular things to do on the Internet in the past couple years. Each year, there are many sites that attempt to enter into the world of social networking. However, only the useful ones with an appealing purpose tend to succeed. Twitter is currently one of the most successful social networking sites available to the public.
Twitter is a fairly new social networking site that only dates back to March 2006. Jack Dorsey, the founder of the site, created the concept based on the idea of simplicity in communication between members of a group. Originally, the site was created as a text messaging service for small groups, but it quickly developed into a global service for communication. Even though the site grew rapidly, it kept its idea of simplicity as a key component to the site.
A core value of Twitter is that it is designed for everyone. The description provided on the networks site states, “At its core, Twitter is a public forum where anyone can read, write and share messages.” This statement shows that the site was intended to be simple enough and useful to anyone who wanted to use it. Falling into this simplicity element, the character limit for posts on twitter is 140- characters. At first, users may find it hard to explain their topic in such a few words. However, by condensing the subject, readers are able to receive their information in a way that they will retain it more sufficiently. In addition, users can also accompany their posts with a link or image to further support their topic.
Due to Twitter’s accessibility, there is a wide range of reasons users may be using the service. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, “Twitter users can be organized into ten different groups: undeads, protectors, chirpers, fans, networkers, scouts, stars, e- celebrities, media companies, and organizations.” These terms are fairly familiar with the exceptions of undeads, protectors, and chirpers. First off, undeads refer to user accounts that are inactive. According the article, “60% of Twitter accounts are inactive.” This may seem like a large amount of users, but compared to the amount of accounts it is pretty insignificant. Second, protectors are users who have their accounts set to private. This is about 12% of uses according to the article. These users are considered to be missing the point of twitter due to their concealed nature. Last, chirpers are the users who tweet simply because they want to. This is the most common form of user a normal community and especially on college campuses.
Although the reasons for using Twitter may vary, the process of actually accessing the site and using it is quit easy. To create a Twitter account, simply go to twitter.com and click the sign up button. From here the site has step by step to set up the basic information for an account. Once the account has been activated, the user is able to start finding followers. Following others is crucial to the function of Twitter because it is how connections are created between users and how different accounts gain global popularity. Users have the ability to follow all sorts of accounts, ranging from friends to celebrities. By following an account, users are able to view the persons post, known in the Twitter world as a tweet.
The key to using Twitter successfully is to use it on a regular basis. This includes the user to both tweet and check what followers have posted so that they can retweet reply, and/or react if appropriate. The foundation for constructing a tweet is the element of being able to use only 140- characteristics, as discussed previously. This forces the user to create a short and concise post. However, the user can choose to include a variety of features to enhance the topic of the tweet.
First, adding a link or image to the post is a simple way to give it a little more meaning. This gives the reader a chance to get further information about what is being tweeted. Next, users can mention other users in a post by typing the “@” sign followed by the username of the person being referenced. This is a popular way to get a specific message to someone and helps get attention o gain more followers. Finally, users can include hashtags in their tweets. These are words or short saying that users include verifying the topic of their post. These are constructed by using the symbol “#” followed by whatever the user is trying to convey written with no spaces in-between words. Popular hashtags appear on the left side of the screen under the heading “trending”. This allows users to see what topics are popular in their area and/or on a globally. Hashtags also provide a way for users to find other users who share interest in similar topics.
In addition to tweeting and checking tweets, there are a few other functions of Twitter. First, users can send messages to other users privately through their accounts. This is similar to email, except for it being sent through Twitter. Second, users are able to favorite specific tweets. This action tells users which posts their followers like. This is similar to the liking capability of Facebook. Last, a user is able to create lists of certain users. This enables the users to organize their followers into groups based on their specific preferences.
For only being around for a little more than seven years, Twitter has made a huge impact in the social networking world. It is the first site that allows users to connect to people that they would not have otherwise been able to get a link to. Its live stream allows users to post what they are thinking with no delay and enables people to keep up with what is going on around them in a faster more accurate way. Twitter has benefited its users in multiple ways. However, these benefits are often partnered with limitations.
First, Twitter is a free and easy site to join. Creating an account takes no time at all and the site provides specific directions enabling the user to create their account as efficient as possible. Also since the site is free, anyone has the ability to create an account. The downside to Twitter being so easy to use though is the fact that anyone can join. This creates the issue where the site might run slowly due to being overloaded with users.
Second, Twitter is an extremely simple site to navigate through. There is only one main page where all the tweets are posted so there is not need to have to search for specific users. Also, users can only use 140-characters in a tweet. This eliminates the chance of someone rambling on in a post. The disadvantage to the simplicity of Twitter is that plainness of users home page. Unlike Facebook, Twitter only allows you to have one photo linked to your profile at a time. This makes the site a bit bland in terms of appearance. Another problem with the straightforwardness of the site is that it is hard to get to know other users. 140- characters are not enough to create deep connections with other users.
Third, Twitter creates an environment of equality for all users. Anyone is able to follow anyone. You do not need consent to follow someone unless the account has a privacy setting on it. This makes it easy to view others posts even if you may not actually know them. For example, being able to follow celebrities is appealing to normal people. The drawback to the lack of selectivity is that users posts are not protected and that anyone has access to them. This is not a huge issue because people tend to not pay a lot of attention to every single tweet a user posts.
Last, Twitter has the ability to have anonymous users. When creating an account on Twitter the user can choose any username the wish to have. This creates the possibility to have a generalized account or to have an account that can give out information without being harassed in person. The issue with this is that users may not know who is really following them, which can be frightening.
Twitter has become one of the most common ways people have stared to get breaking news. With its grow in popularity, Twitter is in need of a few more features in order for the site to perform in the most effective and beneficial way for its users.
First, Twitter should add the ability for users to un-mention themselves from others tweets. This would be useful for users who do not feel comfortable with the topic being conveyed in the post or if they find the post to have a negative connotation.
Second, Twitter would benefit from software’s that protect its users accounts from spam. I know I have personally received messages from followers that are clearly not from the actual person. I have also seen these viruses appear on user tweets with links that lead to sites that can mess up the device being used.
Third, Twitter should eliminate the ability to post things from outside other social networking sites such as Instagram and Vine. By allowing users to tweet these outside sources, it creates problems with viewing the post. I also think that it takes the attention away from Twitter and puts it on other social networking sources.
Last, Twitter should not include hashtags as part of the 140-character limit of a tweet. Most posts include a hashtag and this sometimes can cause the message to not make sense due to certain words being cut out inn order for the hashtag to fall under the limit. This would allow users to be able to tweet their complete thought instead of condensing it to the point where it no longer makes sense.
Twitter has become one of the most successful social networking sites in the short seven years it has been around. The site has many great features, as well as things that could use improving. As its popularity continues to grow, Twitter must make a few changes in order to meet its users needs. Twitter is one of the best social networking sites currently available on Internet and with a few updates, has the potential to continue to grow in the future.
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