Can you imagine a world without Twitter? Some people can't, but it was only five years ago that the first tweet was ever sent. On March 21, 2006, co-founder Jack Dorsey sent the status update-style tweet that simply said, "just setting up my twttr." Back then, Twitter was Twttr, and most people used MySpace more than Facebook. Crazy, right? Who would have thought that in several short years, the microblogging service would field 140 million tweets per day???
I'll admit when I first learned about Twitter, I thought it seemed like an entire service built around one measly little aspect of Facebook: The status update. People initially used Twitter to share "what they were doing right now." And at first, it seemed like more of this egomanical, exhibitionistic MySpace garbage that the Internet did NOT need more of ...
Did I want to tell everyone on the planet what I'm doing ("Going to work," "Doing laundry," "Eating takeout" ... BORING!) in 140 characters or less? Hell no, thanks! But then, something happened ... Twitter became a force to be reckoned with. The whole world realized it, and at some point I think in 2009, I did too.
What people who didn't understand it -- and who still don't -- don't realize is that it's basically a marketing/PR tool. If you have nothing of value to truly share (like must-read real-time news), market, or promote, then it's kind of pointless to tweet. (Of course, being just an observer/listener and following others' tweets is a different story. All you have to be is curious and want to absorb info in real time.) For celebs like Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, or Ashton Kutcher, it makes perfect sense -- they ARE their own brand that they're promoting, and they have built-in followings.
Same is true for authors, bloggers, even doctors. (Although I can't stand when doctors just use Twitter to peddle their supplements or diet bars or whatever. In fact, I hate Twitter for peddling anything but QUALITY content ...) It's a launch pad, a vehicle -- to drive you from point A to point B. Hopefully, point B is somewhere you'd like to go, like a blog post (ahem, like this one!), a news story, or a game.
It's funny, if you think back to '06, did anyone think MySpace was going to DIE like it did, and Facebook and Twitter would become such dominating forces on the Internet? Did anyone think that when you walked into a mall, the first thing you'd see would be the Facebook and Twitter logos and a request to Follow ... the mall's updates?! Or how about how both sites have helped drive revolutions in the Middle East? That's the world we live in now, and I don't really see either site going anywhere. (Although, if they do somehow collapse like MySpace, we're gonna look like real idiots in the history books, huh?)
As long as Twitter continues to evolve as a smart, easy way for people to share important real-time news and promote their ideas, brands, and content, I have a feeling it'll be around for a while. I just hope it never truly impairs our ability to call/talk face-to-face with other people, kinda like in Wall-E. That would be scary. Also, let's never try to abbreviate our thoughts to 140 characters or less when we're speaking out loud. Because that would be like this hilarious sketch from College Humor (below). Enjoy!
Quick! What do you think about Twitter's success (in 140 characters or less)? Why do or don't you use it?
Image via Twitter