Twitter: New Age News Disseminator In India

Dr. Mansi Khanna
(Freelance Writer & Media Educator, New Delhi)
Mrs. Manju Khanna
(Assistant Professor, MBICEM, New Delhi)

Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”. Registered users can read and post tweets, but those who are unregistered can only read them. Users access Twitter through the website interface, SMS or mobile device app. Twitter Inc. is based in San Francisco and has more than 25 offices around the world.

Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass and launched in July 2006. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity with more than 100 million users posting 340 million tweets a day in 2012. The service also handled 1.6 billion search queries per day. In 2013, it was one of the ten most-visited websites and has been described as “the SMS of the Internet”. As of March 2016, Twitter has more than 310 million monthly active users.

Twitter’s origins lie in a “daylong brainstorming session” held by board members of the podcasting company Odeo. The company experienced rapid initial growth. It had 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007. This grew to 100 million tweets per quarter in 2008. In February 2010, Twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day. By March 2010, the company recorded over 70,000 registered applications. As of June 2010, about 65 million tweets were posted each day, equalling about 750 tweets sent each second, according to Twitter. As of March 2011, that was about 140 million tweets posted daily. As noted onCompete.com, Twitter moved up to the third-highest-ranking social networking site in January 2009 from its previous rank of twenty-second.

Twitter’s usage spikes during prominent events. For example, a record was set during the 2010 FIFA World Cup when fans wrote 2,940 tweets per second in the thirty-second period after Japan scored against Cameroon on June 14. The record was broken again when 3,085 tweets per second were posted after the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory in the 2010 NBA Finals on June 17, and then again at the close of Japan’s victory over Denmark in the World Cup when users published 3,283 tweets per second.

Twitter has become internationally identifiable by its signature bird logo. The original logo was in use from its launch in March 2006 until September 2010. A slightly modified version succeeded the first style when the website underwent its first redesign.

Users can group posts together by topic or type by use of hashtags – words or phrases prefixed with a ”#” sign. Similarly, the ”@” sign followed by a username is used for mentioning or replying to other users. To repost a message from another Twitter user and share it with one’s own followers, a user can click the retweet button within the Tweet. Trending topics are sometimes the result of concerted efforts and manipulations by preteen and teenaged fans of certain celebrities or cultural phenomena, particularly musicians like Lady Gaga (known as Little Monsters), Justin Bieber (Beliebers), Rihanna (Rih Navy) and One Direction (Directioners), and novel series Twilight (Twihards) and Harry Potter (Potterheads). Twitter has altered the trend algorithm in the past to prevent manipulation of this type, with limited success.

Twitter is ranked as one of the ten most-visited websites worldwide by Alexa’s web traffic analysis. Daily user estimates vary as the company does not publish statistics on active accounts. A February 2009 Compete.com blog entry ranked Twitter as the third most used social network based on their count of 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits. In March 2009, a Nielsen.com blog ranked Twitter as the fastest-growing website in the Member Communities category for February 2009. Twitter had annual growth of 1,382 %, increasing from 475,000 unique visitors in February 2008 to 7 million in February 2009. In 2009, Twitter had a monthly user retention rate of 40%.

Twitter is many things to many people. For consumers, it is a way to connect to friends, interesting people and large brands. For presidential candidates, it is a way to make campaign promises or embarrass themselves. For journalists, it’s a way to keep a pulse on and engage with communities, locate sources, and report on the world news and unique ways. Twitter has emerged as a powerful news tool, alerting the world about natural disasters, hostage standoffs and even revolutionary uprisings.

At its most basic level, Twitter is a social network focused on interests rather than on friends, where users create brief posts of 140 characters or less. Twitter users can follow and view updates from other users, send public or semi-private replies or have private conversations with other users. Users can also search the entire network in real-time for interesting topics or breaking news, organize their streams with “hashtags” and lists, and even add photos or videos to their posts.

This tutorial provides both a basic introduction to Twitter and highlights the features that makes it a must-have tool for journalists. We’ll discuss general concepts, then take a look at specific techniques for increasing engagement, building a quality network of followers, and best practices, and share a ton of tips for effective community building.

Why Twitter Matters

Some people look at Facebook and Twitter, conclude that Facebook has a larger audience, and decide to focus their efforts there. Yes, Facebook is really important, but there are good reasons to make sure you’re engaging on both platforms.

First, the audiences are very different. Facebook is organized across “the social graph,” which means most people follow people they’ve met. In contrast, Twitter is organized across “the interest graph,” which means people follow accounts that provide valuable information, whether they’ve met or not.

Facebook is mostly about interlocking rings of privacy – walled gardens in which information gets trapped (i.e. Google can’t see the vast majority of content on Facebook). But Twitter is fully public, just like the rest of the web. By definition, content on Twitter has a much wider reach – everything you post can potentially be seen by the whole world.

While Facebook has a “share” function that lets people repeat things others have said, it’s not used nearly as often as Twitter’s “retweet” function. One of Twitter’s key functions is as a news and information amplifier, which is why news spreads so much more quickly on Twitter than on Facebook.

Fastest Way Into Search Engines

Finally, note that Twitter is likely the fastest way to get links to your site’s content into Google and other search engines. Because search engines “license” the Twitter stream for their real-time results, links posted via Twitter show up on Google seconds later.

Citizen Journalism is a movement that is providing common people power to express, power to question and power to act. With the new media and digitization, citizens are creating their own individual ‘media firms’. Individuals use their personalized instruments and equipment of daily use to make the first information report and eye-witness account of news and events happening in and around. They often use the miniaturized new media gadgets like mobile phones, handy cam, i-pod, laptops, scanners etc which can be operated and function in globally accessible software. Also, these handy tools do all that the PCR unit is supposed to do. Citizens everywhere are getting together via the Internet in unprecedented ways to set the agenda for news, inform each other about both local and global news and create new services in a connected, online society.

Comparing news on Twitter and other media platforms, especially television and online newspapers, provide more insight into the nature and uniqueness of tweet news. Even though television gives breaking news and news flash, it is a medium to which we need to tune in, in order to have access to news. Lack of interactivity and audience choice make this medium many a time useless in the busy schedule of life. The threat predicted to the traditional newspaper is from online newspapers, the proliferating medium with a refreshing aura of news dissemination. But even though these online newspapers carry all the qualities like hyper textuality, feedback, user-friendly etc like television, it also expects the audience interest to log on to the particular website in order to get the news. ButTwitter is always online and alive even though one is not connected to the Internet, proving to be more user-friendly and interactive.

Twitter isn’t only about people chatting with friends, or sharing news of a revolution. The adaptability makes it catnip to users- and to the media, which dutifully reports every twist and turn on the site. It is just one part of a larger movement in which Google, Facebook, the mobile phone industry and the Internet all play a part. As Twitter grows its user base, it is becoming not just a source of breaking news, but also a deep and broad indicator of sentiment and social change.

Twitter has many advantages, including communicating with family and friends, catching up on your favourite celebrities and posting content such as photos. However, limitations, spamming and the social networking site’s addictive power are common disadvantages many subscribers encounter on a daily basis.

Posting Limits

Twitter limits each tweet to 140 characters. Unlike some social networks, a tweet that exceeds 140 characters cannot be posted. In addition, you can only send a maximum of 1,000 tweets a day. Even retweets count as tweets and make up your daily total number of allowed posts. The daily count for tweets is broken down into smaller limits for semi-hourly intervals.

Follower Limitations

Twitter does not limit the number of followers that can follow you; however, accounts that have more than 2,000 followers are usually monitored for unlawful behaviour. Once you have 2,000 followers, Twitter can limit the number of additional followers you can receive. For example, if you only have 100 people following you, you can’t follow 10,000 people. “Churning” is a process that involves repeatedly following and un-following a large number of accounts. Accounts that do this are monitored because this pattern is considered a violation. Twitter also monitors accounts for “aggressive following,” a process that involves following hundreds of accounts for no reason other than to garner attention for your account.

Spamming

Spamming is one of the disadvantages of Twitter. Scammers create Twitter accounts to perform a variety of tasks such as posting links with unrelated tweets, posting duplicate updates, and providing links to websites that promote phishing practices and malware. As much as Twitter strives to protect subscribers from spammers, spamming is still a problem. Accounts verified for spamming are subject to permanent suspensions. Spamming violates privacy and security, which is the primary reason why Twitter won’t tolerate it.

Addictive

Twitter can be addictive. As soon as you start posting tweets and see what your followers and the people you’re following are saying, it becomes hard to walk away. It can become an obsession. How you choose to use Twitter is your prerogative, but be warned, it’s easy to get distracted and find yourself spending hours on one conversation after another.

600 million daily searches and 10 billion tweets later Twitter has established itself as a critical element of any social media marketing strategy. Twitter’s success is not surprising though, given its unique balance of business and personal use and high-quality users.

Why Twitter is Valuable to Journalists

Breaking News

When public news breaks in your community, whether that news is a plane crash, terrorist attack, earthquake, flood, mass murder or snowstorm, people who have seen and experienced the news event tweet about it. A reporter’s challenge in covering such news has always been to try to find people who witnessed the event or were affected by it. By using Twitter’s advanced search feature, you can quickly find and connect with these people for interviews and/or for quoting or embedding their tweets in your stories.

Follow Newsworthy People and Orgs

Public figures and organizations in your community use Twitter to announce news, express views and respond to people in the community. Any of these expressions can be newsworthy.

Crowdsourcing

Twitter crowdsourcing doesn’t always work, but it only takes a minute or two to craft an effective crowdsourcing tweet. If it doesn’t work, you can always fall back on old-school source development. More likely, you’ll find a few helpful sources on Twitter, saving some time, and you can concentrate your old-school efforts on finding the last few sources you’ll need.

Search for Sources

If you don’t have many followers, or if your followers don’t know the answers you’re looking for, Twitter can still help you find sources. Use the advanced search function to search for people in your community using keywords that might indicate interest or expertise in the topic you’re reporting on.

Story Ideas

You can get story ideas from Twitter in at least two different ways:

  • Listen to the community conversation
  • Crowdsource story ideas. 

Distribute Content

This is the first way that many journalists and news organizations recognize the value of Twitter. When you post a story or blog post, share it with an engaged Twitter community and you’ll notice an immediate bump in traffic. 

Nowadays, Twitter is becoming the base for reporting any news story. Twitter journalism is preferred as the best means of collecting information and facts for creating a news story whether it relates to the film industry or any celebrity, politics or parties, political leaders etc.

Hence twitter is considered as a news disseminator for the new age crowd in India.

References

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