The story of how Twitter began starts the way many Silicon Valley tech startups do: an idea, a couple tech nerds, and a relentless determination to build something great. Now, what started out as a simple way for friends to share status updates via SMS has evolved into a massive social messaging tool. Twitter has spurred uprisings in the Middle East, accelerated the rise of “citizen journalism,” and given us the beloved hashtag. But what’s happening with Twitter now?
Maybe this nifty little infographic will give us a clue. The image below shows the major social media sites and their respective statistics as of this year:
For those in the journalism and PR industries, Twitter is a pretty big deal: it’s a major news source, huge opportunity for instant connection with users, and great way to keep track of what other people are posting. But to put things in perspective, according to the chart above, Facebook has 5x as many active users with Instagram, LinkedIn, and even (despite its irrelevancy) Google+ outranking it as well. Seeing as the only network to rank below Twitter in active users is the female-dominated, niche-user network of Pinterest, one might ask: is Twitter uncool now?
Short answer? No. Not by a long shot. I think that Twitter will continue to make waves and continue to be relevant in the years ahead, regardless of whatever hip new social network comes next. Even in the shadow of social behemoth Facebook, Twitter has managed to carve out a special community of users that will remain loyal to the cause. And I think that’s where Twitter’s real secret lies…
The devoted few: small but mighty.
From the 289 million active users on Twitter, 9,100 tweets are sent out every second. Yes, every second. And while the inital stat does surprise me, when I think of a few of my own followers who seem to be a bit too “tweet-happy,” it makes a lot more sense. As a self-described “micro-blogging service,” Twitter is designed to appeal to those who want to share their every action and thought. Unlike Facebook, people use Twitter very differently. For example, it seems that my Facebook feed is regularly flooded with photo albums, links to political articles, and people getting engaged. But on Twitter? I see a little bit of everything — for better and for worse, I suppose.
At it’s core, Twitter seems to be the perfect medium for people looking to share any thought, at any time, from any place. Other social networks have tried to mimic this same thing, but none have done so as successfully as Twitter. And I suspect it will continue to be this way.
Twitter certainly has room to grow and improve its service. But as a tool that taps into human’s deepest desires to be heard, acknowledged, and noticed, it excels more than any other.