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Professionals and socializers flock to Twitter

Submitted by Jacob Ellerbee on April 4, 2013 – 11:50 amNo Comment

The popular microblogging website, Twitter, which celebrated its seventh birthday March 21, has seen exponential growth in popularity as of late.

Meaghan Milliorn, a web communications specialist at UALR who operates the UALR Facebook and Twitter accounts, said one of the reasons Twitter has been so successful is that it combines two things that people already enjoy: texting friends and providing updates to an audience.

“[Users] were already accustomed to posting status updates to Facebook and to texting our friends,” Milliorn said. “Twitter combines both of those … it allows us to post short, quick updates about our lives.”

Twitter imposes a limit of 140 characters per tweet, which seems minute, but the short bursts of information are one of Twitter’s strongest assets. This encourages users to frequently make updates, which could lead to more users looking at the time line or home page of Twitter and keeps people interested in learning about what’s going on in the world.

The frequent and short burst of information have been a hit with news-gathering organizations, sports stars, politicians and celebrities.

During a breaking-news situation, Twitter users can quickly blast tweets and provide updates or commentary with the public as it unfolds or shortly after it occurs. It is also used by celebrities to dispute things tabloids write about them; sports stars to take fans behind the scenes; politicians to garner support for an upcoming election; and reporters to tweet about a developing situation.

Amy Barnes, assistant professor in the school of mass communication, who has more than 15 years of experience in public relations, said Twitter has become so popular that it is becoming more widely used by public relations specialists.

“You have to monitor if you’re an organization,” Barnes said. “You have to have a department that probably does nothing but surf the net, not only social media, but blogs, wikis and other things.”

Twitter has joined the likes of Facebook by becoming a place in which consumers update and keep track of their friends, and see what people around the world are thinking and doing. Barnes said the social media sites may naturally lose users over time, but will constantly evolve and find ways to please their users.

“I think they both [Facebook and Twitter] have too solid of a footing to really just fade away and go quietly into that dark night,” Barnes said.

Part of the evolution of the two social media giants has been the addition of more services and features within the sites.

Facebook recently purchased the popular photo sharing service, Instagram. The service allows users to take photos on their smartphones, apply digital filters and make minor edits to enhance their photographs before publishing them. In February, the company announced there are 100 million monthly users of Instagram.

Twitter, although younger than Facebook, has already evolved from its text-based foundation and moved into video service. Keeping the idea of simplicity and short bursts of information, Twitter launched its video service, Vine, in January. Users are limited to  six seconds of video. The application is teeming with creativity and it seems stop motion animation has become a popular outlet.


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