Here we are, months after Twitter’s 11th birthday, and how the social media landscape has changed in that time. Twitter is now one of the “big four” social media platforms, and a household name in 2017. But, unlike Facebook, whose origin story has been well documented and dramatized, few people know how the micro-blogging platform got its start, or how its rise to popularity began.
At Little Egg Solutions, we know the importance of social media to business success, and part of that is understanding the platform at a deeper level than the average user. So, please, join us as we take a stroll down memory lane with a lesson in #Twistory (the history of Twitter).
When did Twitter get its start?
Twitter is primarily the brainchild of the board and employees of Odeo, a then-struggling podcasting company. The goal was to create an SMS service that let people communicate remotely, publicly, and in real-time. In March of 2006, the first tweet was published on the platform by Jack Dorsey (one of the founding forces of Twitter). It read, “just setting up my twttr.” Later, in the 38th tweet, another co-creator Dom Sagolla predicted, accurately, “oh this is going to be addictive.”
The well-known 140-character limit started as a practical matter. Twitter was originally SMS-based, and 140 characters was all the space that could be allowed while still leaving room for a username. When the platform became web-based, the 140-character limit stuck as a signature of the brand. It encouraged both social interaction and information sharing in bite-sized, real-time communications, changing the face of blogging.
How did a micro-blogging platform get so big?
Addictive, as it turns out, was exactly the right word to describe Twitter’s micro-status update platform. There is some controversy about how popular the platform was in the early days before Odeo co-founder Evan Williams bought back all Odeo assets from investors, including Twitter. At the time, there were only 5,000 registered users on the platform, but whether or not Williams knew it, Twitter was about to blow up.
One year after launch, Twitter boasted 60,000 tweets a day at the South by Southwest Interactive conference. With a steadily increasing user-base, Twitter grew to more than 105 million registered users by April 2010 and 200 million registered users by September 2011. In 2013, Twitter filed a successful IPO, and now, the latest data reports 700 million Twitter users (and 500 million tweets per day). But why? The secret to Twitter’s popularity seems to be a combination of user-driven innovation, convenience, and our desire to connect with others and make our voices heard.
When did Twitter become a business tool?
Twitter has changed the way that consumers interact with brands on a cultural and individual level, and it has changed their expectations from companies that want their patronage in a couple of ways. When the “promoted tweet” was first introduced as an advertising medium, it addressed a pain point for both consumers and for companies. For businesses, it presented a new way to integrate advertising into the mobile experience, by inserting it into the streaming feed of consumers (a common practice in many platforms today).
For consumers, marketing on Twitter, which was nearly indistinguishable from other tweets (and later trends) prevented the interruption of their experience by pop-up ads and bulky banners. This catering to user experience is part of what built the expectation of personal interaction from brands, and it created a whole new way to interact with consumers and reach them where they already were: on their phones, and on social media.
The rest, you could say, is #Twistory.
What can we learn from #Twistory? We know now that Twitter is a powerful marketing tool, but it’s also an example of entrepreneurial success that small and medium business owners can aspire to. Twitter is “the next big thing” personified, and they kept that momentum turning over to become one of the biggest platforms on the web and an invaluable asset for businesses. At Little Egg Solutions, our job is to help you use social media to get your “next big thing” rolling, and to maintain that momentum in a perfect storm of marketing success. Contact us today to find out how!