What is Twitter? Twitter: What Are the Risks?

What is Twitter? Twitter: What Are the Risks? Twitter, a social networking site launched in 2006, is undoubtedly one of the most popular social media platforms available today, with 100 million daily active users and 500 million tweets sent daily.

Twitter can be used to receive news, follow high-profile celebrities, or stay in-touch with old high school friends.

But its popularity can be intimidating — if you don’t know how to use Twitter in 2019, should you even bother trying to join the masses who’ve acquired years of experience on the site?

Fortunately, Twitter is incredibly easy to use. Here, we’ll cover what Twitter is, who uses Twitter, and how you can get started on the site, today.

What is Twitter

What is Twitter?

In 2006, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, had an idea — he would create a SMS-based communications platform in which friends could keep tabs on each other by updating statuses. In the beginning, Twitter was an idea all-too-similar to texting.

The idea evolved, in large part due to brainstorming sessions with Dorsey’s co-founder, Evan Williams.

On March 21, 2006, Jack sent the first tweet, which read — “just setting up my twttr.”

Twitter saw explosive growth at the 2007 South By Southwest Interactive conference, during which more than 60,000 tweets were sent. The Twitter team took advantage of the conference to begin growing their user base.

Twitter began as an SMS-based platform, so the 140 character limit was initially simply a necessity — mobile carriers imposed the limit, not Twitter.

However, as Twitter grew to become a web platform, they kept the limit simply because it aligned with Twitter’s brand — Twitter is a platform that aims to create highly skimmable content for our tech-heavy, attention-deficit modern world.

Twitter has grown exponentially over the past 10+ years. Its purpose is ultimately to spread information fast — while that information is not always serious (Kim Kardashian’s thoughts on makeup, for instance), it sometimes is (like when Iranian protesters used Twitter to assemble marches).

In many ways, Twitter has both unlimited meaning and immeasurable potential. It can connect you with someone in Thailand as quickly as it can introduce you to your next-door neighbor. You might choose to fill your feed with industry professionals, news sites, celebrities, comedians, or friends.

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By enabling each user to curate their content to their personal desires and interests, Twitter has successfully created a highly-addictive platform.

What is Twitter used for?

Twitter is a social media site, and its primary purpose is to connect people and allow people to share their thoughts with a big audience. Twitter allows users to discover stories regarding today’s biggest news and events, follow people or companies that post content they enjoy consuming, or simply communicate with friends. Additionally, PR teams and marketers can use Twitter to increase brand awareness and delight their audience.

Twitter for Marketers

Twitter can be a very helpful platform for growing a following and providing your audience with valuable content before they even become customers. The character limit can also help you create quick-and-compelling advertisements, like a shout-out to a webinar your business is conducting, or a free e-book.

It’s important to note, you can use Twitter to advertise your products or services, but you should do so sparingly. Like any social media marketing strategy, your primary focus should be on attracting an audience with useful content and growing brand awareness.

Additionally, you can use Twitter to connect with your audience in personal and meaningful ways. If someone mentions one of your products or services, you can “like” or “retweet” their comment. Alternatively, if a customer complains about your services on Twitter, you can reach out to rectify the situation in real-time.

To learn more about how to use Twitter for marketing purposes, take a look at How to Use Twitter for Marketing & PR.

What is Twitter

Twitter for Reporters

Twitter has often been used to spread breaking news quickly — at times, it’s even faster than traditional media outlets at spreading groundbreaking information quickly.

For instance, when the US Airways plane crash-landed in the Hudson River in 2009, Janis Krums was one of the first to spread the word via Twitter, before many media outlets even caught on:

As a reporter, you could amass a large following by tweeting short descriptions to alert your audience of daily events.

Additionally, many celebrities, athletes, and politicians choose to post on Twitter directly rather than speaking through media outlets when they want to share information with their fans — so Twitter is often a helpful avenue when you’re looking for insider information or direct quotes to use for an article.

Of course, there’s a danger in using Twitter as a primary source of news — the limited character count, for one thing, enables Twitter users to spread one-sided information without having the space to offer the full-story. If you’re a reporter, it’s likely best if you use Twitter to post short snapshots of larger events, but stay clear of offering controversial opinions when you don’t have the text space to back it up.

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Twitter for PR Teams

If you work in PR, you might consider using Twitter to post announcements about one of your clients — for instance, you could tweet about a release date for a client’s product, or an upcoming event.

Twitter can also help you quickly figure out what your client’s competitors are discussing, to ensure your client is up-to-date on industry trends, and participating in the larger conversation.

Finally, Twitter allows you to network with professionals or influencers who might have an interest in working with your client.

Twitter for Individuals

You can use Twitter for entertainment purposes, or to stay in contact with friends and family. At its most basic, Twitter is similar to sending out a 140-character mass text to everyone you know — you could use it to share a funny story, post a compelling video, or ask your audience a question. The choice is yours.

Twitter: What Are the Risks?

As with many social networking sites, there are risks for young people. And many of the risks are the same as those which come with all the other social networking sites. Twitter is a very public forum. While users can lock their profiles so that only followers can see their tweets, it’s generally a very open website. This means that almost anyone can log on and view what a specific person has said since they joined the site.

Imagine if you tweeted a message about how you hated your job and a potential new employer came across the tweet criticising your old boss. What does this say about you?

In seconds, tweets can be seen by thousands
And with young people, the problem is that often they forget that what they say online is not private, it’s very much public. Despite the privacy settings, any tweet can be retweeted by other users whose followers can then retweet this again.

This means in just seconds, messages can be seen by thousands of people. Twitter is slightly different form many social networking sites in that often, young people and all other users are constantly online. Many users have their Twitter browser open on a continual basis, on mobile phones or laptops, and interact with the site many times a day.This can lead to young people dropping their guard and posting personal information which they shouldn’t.

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Given that there are predators out there, and unscrupulous scam merchants, the wealth of personal information contained on the site tweeted by young people, whether it be locations, pictures, school events etc, is dangerous. Again, as with most social networking sites, there are things which we would rather our children did not see and with Twitter, there is little or no bar to inappropriate images or messages being retweeted and spread across the site.

And to add to that, cyberbullying is a big problem on Twitter. Because of its instantaneous and viral nature, nasty messages can be tweeted at users with ease and can be repeated again and again. But it’s important to stress that Twitter can do good too. For more information on getting the most out of Twitter and staying safe online, visit their recently launched Safety Centre here: twitter.com/safety

Why Is Twitter so Popular?

Twitter is a treasure trove of information. Many organisations and users tweet links to interesting articles or new information and the site can be a great tool for young people to broaden their understanding of the world. While nailing down specific reasons for Twitter’s success is difficult, there are some things which have contributed to it building up a massive user base of over 500 million people all over the world.

Traditionally, celebrities and other well-known people were screened off from “ordinary” people. But now, many high profile people are using Twitter. This gives people access to what they are saying and doing, and in a celebrity era, this makes Twitter extremely popular with young people.

Given too, that young people are naturally born multi-taskers, Twitter is popular because it suits the modern, face-paced world we live in. As outlined, tweets fly around cyberspace in seconds and young people like it because they can connect to this ever-changing online world wherever they are. But most of all, Twitter is popular because it’s easy to use, easy to set up and becomes quite addictive.

Blocking and Reporting on Twitter

Twitter have made improvements to their blocking and reporting tools. To help users control their experience on Twitter you can now Block, Mute and Report other users. For more info go to: twitter.com/safety/three-tools

What is Twitter

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