Ten years ago the verb “tweeting” was unfamiliar to the world’s vocabulary. Today, it is recognized virtually around the world. In fact, according to an article in Forbes magazine, the social media giant known as Twitter registered its 500 millionth user last Wednesday. At this rate, it has been predicted the site will reach 1 billion users a year and a half from now. Although popular, the whole concept of the site seems off base at first. Using 140 characters to express your thoughts to all those who follow you? Not too appealing. Until one actually utilizes the site, they are oblivious as to how many doors the site opens for the everyday user and business moguls alike.
After signing up with Twitter, you are instantly exposed to the thoughts and ideas of your favorite celebrities and can participate in topics you may be interested in. Juliet Barbara of Forbes Magazine describes Twitter as a “primordial soup” of idea creation and sharing. She goes on to express the importance of the chats, known as “Tweet chats” that Twitter provides. These chats are the interactive side to the site where instead of just sharing your ideas and hoping someone sees them, you can actually communicate with others. In addition to the chats, one of the main benefits of Twitter is that it offers a two-way street between the dishing out and consumption of ideas. We are able to share our own opinions and at the same time get the most recent news or gossip instantaneously.
Beyond Twitter providing a form of entertainment to its users, it also has the potential to serve as a beneficial business tool. Small businesses can gain more recognition in order to build their brand through the sharing of information to potential customers. Brian Whalley, writer of the article “15 Ways To Use Twitter for Business” on SocialFresh.com, educates readers on how the website is a way to gather research. For example, businesses could post questions asking for opinions and not only that, but also pay attention to recent trends among users. Although this could be done through surveys on websites and mailers, the speed that information can be retrieved from Twitter is unmatched. Not only does Twitter make sending and retrieving data quicker, but its also free. The concept of buying expensive ad space in a newspaper or magazine seems outdated when you compare it to the ease of simply signing up for a Twitter account.
Like other social media, Twitter is not without its downfalls. Users spread their ideas and thoughts, but this means they can also spread rumors. An article from the New York Times addresses the problem of death hoaxes on Twitter. Each day it seems as if the death of a recognized celebrity is trending on the website. More recently, a string of death hoaxers decided to start tweeting “RIP Madonna”, thus creating a stir amongst her passionate fan base. Rumors about deaths that have not occurred not only create unnecessary chaos, but also bring down the reputation of Twitter itself. Instead of being an outlet for information, it is made into an outlet to spread lies.
Almost every celebrity today makes use of Twitter by posting their thoughts or current projects for their fans to see. What celebrities don’t realize is a post can ruin their reputation almost as fast as they are able to post it. Due to the fact posts through Twitter are so instant, it makes it hard to take a thought back before it is seen by most, if not all, of your followers. Because posts through Twitter are so instant, it makes it hard to take a thought back before it is seen by most of your followers. The New York Times article, “Twitter Is All in Good Fun, Until It Isn’t”, makes a case of Roland Martin, an employee of CNN who was hired to spread opinions via tweets. The well-known newspaper columnist and political analyst got in trouble for a post that seemed to promote violence against gays during the Super bowl. As a result of the post Martin was put on immediate suspension by CNN. Although celebrities and colleagues of major companies aim to build their reputation and brand, it is important to do it in a professional manner as many other celebrities caught in Twitter blunders have learned.