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    January 2009
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Twitter seems to be going mainstream

Posted by guesto on January 23, 2009

I’ve seen lots of evidence in the last couple of weeks that “Micro blogging” site Twitter may have reached it’s tipping point and is now breaking into mainstream use by “normal” consumers (EG, not just by early adopter internet nerds or kids). It’s been a site of interest for a while of course, but quite easy for a blue-chip client to ignore, or dismiss as not being used by a mainstream audience.

Here is a round-up of some of the key indicators that I’ve noticed recently.

Channel 4 News report on Hudson River plane crash

Writing in the daily “snowmail” email for Channel 4 News on 16th Jan, Alex Thompson writes “Incidentally you may have noticed in recent weeks and months Channel 4 News tweeting away on Twitter and it’s worth noting that one of the first images of the crash appeared on Twitter within minutes of it happening. After similar “news reports” from big stories such as the Mumbai attacks. There’s clearly something going on here that we’ll have to keep our eyes on.”

Take out: The immediacy of being able to “tweet” an event (even faster than blogging) combined with the accessibility with which anyone can do it (as easy as texting) means that citizen journalism on an event can be instantaneous. A news channel like ITN (who provide Channel 4 News) always need reporters “on the ground” so Twitter provides an opportunity not just to find out immediately what is going on where (like an early warning system) but also leverage the content and opinions of those that are tweeting.

The celebs get on board
I’d seen loads of reports on my feeds about mainstream celerities using twitter to connect with their audiences. Jonathan Ross being the one to get the most media buzz about the event. Last week my colleague at AKQA Rick Williams wrote on his own blog a list of just some celebs that are tweeting:

Oh my god – Philip Schofield is on Twitter!

Is it the beginning of the end for Twitter…or is Twitter more than a fad?

Philip Schofield – (2,366 followers in a week after that little piece to camera on This Morning)
Jonathan Ross – (13,933 followers)
Stephen Fry – (51,000 followers)
Alan Carr – (4,018 followers)
And Dancing On Ice (wtf?!?!?) –

Rick’s Takeouts: “Twitter’s got some real legs when it comes to TV in general. or Dr. Who…What if you could follow the Doctor and get his thoughts whenever he’s not in a scene – The thoughts & emotions of the Doctor when he’s not in the scene; after a big argument for example or by adding a quick retort out of ear shot?? You could get the Doctor to ask for advice and get the audience to reference material online that could help him…Good for spin-offs or integrated two-way ARGs. Some fool out there is calling this Transmedia, but essentially it’s just a different way of telling a story….”

Then, there was the mildly significant event that was Obama finally taking over the White House.
Obama already had a Twitter account @barackobama but for the inauguration day his team also set one up at @obamainaugural for people to specifically follow the day.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the inauguration led to an unprecedented spike in people “tweeting” as shown here by a “tweetscan” report for “Obama”.

Mentions of "Obama" on Twitter, Jan 09

Take outs: Twitter is a useful barometer for events of significance, or just for guaging how significant an event is.

Hitwise report a 974% increase in UK traffic to
Hitwise UK research director Robin Goad reports on his blog that traffic to Twitter in the UK has increased almost ten fold in the last year.

“UK Internet traffic to the site has increased 10-fold over past last 12 months. For the week ending 17/01/09 ranked as the 291st most visited website in the UK, up from a ranking of 2,953 for the week ending 19/01/08. UK Internet traffic to the website has increased by 974% over this period.”

It is also worth noting his point that this ONLY measures traffic to the website, so does not include all of the interaction from mobile devices, widgets etc where much of the interaction will actually occur.

Blue-chip brands get involved too
Mashable has published a great article showcasing 40 good examples of brands engaging wih consumers in twitter.

One of the simplest examples in the list is Home Depot, who are using it to quickly respond to customers who mention them in their tweets:

And there are plenty more newbies
Even my step brother popped up on the site the other day which I didnt expect. His first tweet?

“Trying Twitter, not too impressed so far so going to cycle home in the cold. “



One Response to “Twitter seems to be going mainstream”

  1. Duncan said

    Nice. Just as I was looking for a helpful summary of latest Twitter developments. I knew putting you into my RSS feeder would pay off at sometime!


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