When Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet on March 21, 2006, the service was called Twttr and his first tweet was no more inspired than most of the other first tweets that would follow:
just setting up my twttr
— Jack (@jack) March 21, 2006
I was an early Twitter; my first Tweet wouldn’t come until January of 2009. It took me awhile to see the value. Now, some 30,600 tweets later from my personal account and 6,362 tweets later from my business account, the value is clear.
Twitter has its downsides. It has helped reduce our attention spans and ability to focus, constantly checking for updates. The speed to publish has led to many a regret. The campaigns of politicians have been torpedoed, and regular people have lost their jobs over ill-considered tweets.
Surely though these are outweighed by the upsides. Now anyone can build and reach an audience; the power of the press no longer belongs just to those that own one. We have a window into the lives of celebrities and politicians, and media can provide more colour on current events that can’t make it into news copy. It’s easier than ever to keep up on current events, even if, at times, the volume can be overwhelming.
And marketers have a powerful new tool to reach their customers. On the other hand, customers have a powerful new tool to express their displeasure with a brand, creating lots of work for brand managers and customer service departments.
Twitter’s impact has often been overstated. Many claim it is making/will make/has made the news media irrelevant. This ignores the fact that traditional media is the source of most news shared on Twitter. Its record for accuracy around breaking news is spotty at best – in fairness, so is that of traditional media recently.
Perhaps the best example of Twitter’s impact is outside North America; Twitter and other social media are often the first things blocked by repressive regimes, as they’re a powerful tool for dissidents to share information and organize in a society where the media are controlled by the government.
From the folks at Twitter, here are a few memorable moments from the last nine years of tweets.
- The birth of the #hashtag
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
— Chris Messina® (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
- NASA found water on Mars
Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!
— MarsPhoenix (@MarsPhoenix) June 20, 2008
- A witness to breaking news
http://twitpic.com/135xa – There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.
— Jānis Krūms (@jkrums) January 15, 2009
- Reelection for U.S. President Barrack Obama
Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012
- The Oscar selfie
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014