TWITTER HAS GONE FROM BEING A NOVELTY TO A POWERFUL AND POLEMICAL MEDIA FORCE.
you don’t know what social media is now, you must have been living under a rock for the past 10 years. Social media has grown into the biggest virtual community centre, and it is a part of everyone’s daily lives. Twitter is the new platform for people to be heard, seen and to stalk those sexy (and sometimes crazy, we’re looking at you Gaga) celebs! We are Twitter fanatics here and we can’t get enough of looking into the daily lives of people we never used to have the chance to! Twitter is great! But when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is and although Twitter is amazing (well that’s what we think!), it does come with some of those nasty little pesky bugs!
Before Twitter was cool and the kids got down with it, it was known as ‘Twttr’ and no one could have predicted its final outcome of what it is now. Originally, it was nothing more than your standard, boring text messaging. ‘Who would want that?’ we hear you ask! We know! Well thankfully, with years of development, the Twitter we know and love today was born. With Twitter being born, Twttr wasn’t just going to back down and that’s why we see the text messaging restriction of 140 characters today. Many people see this as a good or a bad thing but Dhiraj Murphy of Cambridge University sees it a little differently,
We agree with Dhiraj, the character restriction can be a powerful tool! However, some people can never seem to find the right words to say in 140 characters. You need get more creative! With the restriction, tweets are then short and sweet and straight to the point and that is what makes Twitter different from the rest. Twitter is for leisure and people don’t really want to be using their brains. Twitterers tweeting two sentences are going to be noticed more than someone tweeting a four paragraph tweet. Because after all, who likes reading essays? People shouldn’t look at the 140 character rule as a restriction, but more of a ‘creative constraint’; it is something to have fun with!
always first understand the real purpose of Twitter. It can be seen as a novelty from many new starters and Twitter’s figures back that up this up; a huge number of people join Twitter, have a play around for a few weeks and then eventually stop using it. That can’t be said for us... We’re self admittedly Twitter addicts and we’re not one bit ashamed. The reasons for people becoming inactive viewers tend to focus around the fact that they get bored, they have no followers and ultimately, they simply do not understand it. Having a basic understanding of Twitter before using it is crucial if you are to become a Twitter-savvy user. When you have finished reading through your ‘Twitter for beginners’ manual, people use it for many different purposes.
Twit ‘Twitter has simple yet powerful methods of connecting Tweets to larger themes, specific people, and groups.’ (Murphy, D. 2013)
When those Twitter virgins first break free and discover Twitter, it is something new and exciting. Although people don’t
From absolute addicts to voyeuristic users, there
With an average of 9,100 Tweets every second, it would take just five days for 1 billion Tweets (Statistic Brain, 2014)
are many different types of Twitter users in today’s age. The voyeuristic users are the users who just sit and watch everything unfold on the big virtual community centre, along with a tub of popcorn. Twitter addicts are the users who document their lives every hour of every day, telling us that they went to the shop in their new trainers to get some eggs for Mum and telling us what they have planned for later on in the day, every day. These users can’t go a day without tweeting, if they are away from Twitter, they tend to get feelings of loss and worry. When the students of The University of Winchester weren’t drinking and rolling in at five in the morning, they held a research project on a number of
Facebook and Twitter addicts who stopped using their accounts for four weeks during the research. They had a range of different feelings through the project but
tter ‘many quickly became isolated from friends and family and reported feeling “cut off from the world”’ (Sparkes, M. 2013).
Bless them. There is an obvious need for social networking in people’s lives of today.
REAL-TIME CELEBRITY G O S S I P In the Twitter world, there are many different types of Twitter users, most of them fit into the ‘approval-seekers’ category, worrying of how many retweets, favourites and replies they get when they post something.These approval-seekers will constantly check their notifications and will seriously worry until they see people responding (Sparkes, M. 2013). These people also don’t hold back when it comes to expressing their opinions. They will rant and abuse the people they don’t like, and as it all unfolds, we love to sit back, relax and watch it happen. Arguments in the celebrity
TWITTER IS CELEBRITY GOSSIP IN REAL TIME.
world on Twitter are something that are sought about. During a Twitter feud between Lily Allen and Azealia Banks in July 2013, the whole of Twitter had front row seats. Insults were thrown from one to another with Allen tweeting ‘Not even gonna @ her but if she wants to talk about weak, I’m sure her record sales to date should suffice. One hit wonder’ (@lilyallen, 2013). Banks soon replied ‘LOL I’ll be a one hit wonder but you have ugly children and a coke habit... Shh’ (@AZEALIABANKS, 2013). There are many celebrity Twitter feuds that have happened in the past year and everyone seems
to love them, especially us! It is celebrity gossip in real time, and Twitter users are there to see it all unfold. Things can get nasty between some people and many people seem to enjoy the feuds but the question has to be asked of when a line is drawn for when it gets too nasty. Twitter is something like never before. Pre-Twitter, to see what celebrities were up to, newspapers would be the first point of call. However, with Twitter now, newspapers are often disregarded.Twitter is celebrity gossip in real time. People can personally go into the lives of public figures for the first time. Users can follow whoever they want, from Barack Obama to Gordon Ramsay. Unfortunately, many people feel the need to make accounts under celebrities’ names, and sometimes it is quite hard to tell the difference between who is real and who is not. That was until Twitter introduced the blue verified badge in 2009, a new social symbol of importance and popularity. When people follow celebs on Twitter, they go into the lives of celebrities and see them for who they really are, it’s great and can be very exciting. They can even interact with them by replying
to their Tweets and if they are lucky, the celebrities reply. Those lucky people that do get a reply, get a buzz, they feel excited and recognised. For many people this is an amazing feeling. We’re jealous! When a celebrity is having a bad day (because let’s face it, we all have them), they tweet about it for all of us to see. Fans and followers realise that these celebrities aren’t just characters in the media, but they have feelings and are actually real people! Which is a weird thought process in some people’s minds, even ours!
T H E T W I T T E R
BACK IN JANUARY 2011, DEMI LOVATO WAS EMITTED TO REHAB AND SIGNED OFF TWITTER TO ALL OF HER FANS AND FOLLOWERS BUT AFTER A FEW MONTHS OF TREATMENT, LOVATO WAS BACK OUT AND WHILST GETTING HER LIFE BACK IN ORDER, SHE RETURNED TO TWITTER. Throughout her time away, thousands of her fans wished her luck and showed their support to her. ‘I love you guys SO MUCH ... this support is UNBELIEVABLE!! I’m tearing up I’m so thankful,’ ‘Achievement comes to those who are willing to walk as far as it takes till you get to what few have. Stay strong.’ (@ddlovato, 2011) For a fan to see these tweets is amazing, it’s lovely to know that you’ve made a difference and especially to one of your idols when they’re going through a dark time. For all you mediageeks, the uses and gratification theory can be seen in situations like this. When followers see
such a big celebrity going through such a bad time, and coming out on top can really motivate fans and possibly help them in their troubles too. The support for Lovato was so big that in an interview with Cambio, she explained how much she appreciated the support from her followers. During her time in rehab, there was a trend of followers posting images to Twitter of them with a love heart drawn on their wrist. Lovato loved this so much that the only way to show how much their support meant to her was to get a tattoo of the same love heart (Cambio, 2011). How ruddy cute! This is the definition of how powerful Twitter can
be. It did not just help turn one person’s life around, but it helped other people in their troubles too. We love you Twitter.
OSCARS SELFIE It is obvious that on Twitter, there is a great community feel to things. The support that followers show people throughout Twitter can be phenomenal. ‘It is a quick and easy way to spread existing information to an audience’ (Rudat, A. 2014). Like Anja Rudat explains, retweeting is something that Twitter users can do to spread Tweets that they believe their followers may be interest of, not just to show support. Recently, retweeting has been something that has been huge. During the Oscars 2014, America’s Ellen Degeneres Tweeted a ‘selfie’ of her and many other beloved celebs at the awards show (@ TheEllenShow, 2014), the image flew around the media and it could not be missed. Over a week, the Tweet was retweeted just over a staggering 3.4 million times and Ellen suddenly went down in history for the most retweeted Tweet ever. What is great is that everyone was a part of it. ‘“We got an email from Twitter and we crashed and broke Twitter. We have made history,” DeGeneres said shortly after access to the social media site was disrupted due to sharing of her star-studded picture’ (Baertlein, L. 2014). The fact that Ellen even broke Twitter is astonishing but it just proves the
community feel of Twitter and shows how much people care and all of this can be done by the click of a button. Not only did the picture go viral around the world, but people started to make their own versions of the ‘Oscars selfie’, even we did! The Simpsons creator Matt Groening was another one who made a parody of the selfie (Bagwell, M. 2014) Ellen did not only make history with her Tweet, she proved how powerful of a tool Twitter can be. TWITTER BUSINESS Retweets are an obvious way of showing support, but they can also seriously popularise yourself and businesses. Using Twitter in the business world is a great way to get information out, for free, quickly. What more could you want? Everyone is a winner. They can also have viral results too and this has been seen all too much in the last couple of years. Tesco’s Twitter constantly Tweets their promotional offers and they also help customers out with any questions they may have. Not only does this benefit the company but it also benefits customers as they do not have to wait in line on the phone; they can contact Tesco directly by tweeting them and get a response straight away. As well as their professional and company-related tweets, Tesco and other companies are not
afraid to have a laugh and a joke. They often tweet their customers and other businesses with humour at the front line. A Tweet from TescoMobile directed to @RealJaffaCakes started off a very big conversation between several companies, Yorkshire Tea, Cadbury’s and Phileas Foggs. The tweets were hilarious and the whole of Twitter watched it unfold with friendly banter thrown from each other. One Twitter user tweeted, ‘When you call someone and it goes through to their Tesco Mobile Voicemail... LOOOOOOOL (sic)’ @ LiyahSummers, 2013), Tesco Mobile saw this and replied, ‘When you realise your mates are ignoring you... LOOOOOOL (sic)’ (@tescomobile, 2013). Social media geniuses if you ask us. This is a great example of companies having the ability to contact anyone through Twitter. It turns the talk of Tesco Mobile being an ‘uncool’ brand on its head and with Tesco gaining over 11,000 retweets, people clearly found it as funny as we did. Their likability is suddenly increased and they gain recognition with customers and other competitors. Companies don’t just use Twitter for promotion, but they also use it to relate and interact with their customers directly which is something that is not seen on anywhere else.
C O M M U N I T Y
SHE GAINED THOUSANDS MORE FOLLOWERS AND SHE SLOWING BECAME A LAUGHING STOCK FOR EVERYONE TO SEE
We have realised that Twitter can enable companies to win approval and recognition from people but sometimes this is not always the case, as seen with American actress Amanda Bynes. In 2012, the Twitter world witnessed Amanda’s public meltdown over several months. From the perfect American princess, Amanda went down a very vicious spiral. She went through her meltdown, documenting her life on Twitter, uploading images of herself and tweeting her thoughts and feelings with no censoring. The difference from when she used to be the American sweetheart was scary, but it was also very sad and it was clear to everyone
that Amanda was going through a very dark time. Amanda tweeted Lance Bass who claimed he thought she had mental issues. “Sorry you’re an ugly ex boy band member w/no talent or career” ... took to Twitter on Monday to continue refuting drug charges while declaring, “All I’m becoming is more famous!” (Gilman, G. 2013). Amanda was bang on the money there, but she was becoming more famous but for all the wrong reasons and she only had herself to blame. She gained thousands more followers and she slowing became a laughing stock for everyone to see. Unfortunately, she soon became in the hands of the law for her reckless behaviour and because she aired all her dirty laundry on Twitter, she couldn’t deny it.
NON-EXISTENT AGE RESTRICTIONS
Unlike most social networking sites, Twitter has no age restriction and referring to scenarios like Amanda Bynes and her meltdown, anyone of any age can witness them. When signing up to Twitter, there is no prompt to enter a certain age. Meaning everything and anything can be seen by anyone of any age. This is one thing that we certainly disagree with. What makes the problem worse is that Twitter also doesn’t restrict what people put up on their profiles. There are many users who have Twitter accounts that promote porn and unfortunately, these are accessible by anyone. Business-woman and model Jodie Marsh has uploaded images of herself topless and considering she is a business woman, this is hardly attractive. Even still, these images are viewable by anyone. Although, Twitter recognised this and as of last year, they introduced a new ‘Age Screening’ system to prevent unwary eyes looking where they should not be. ‘Buddy Media built the product in a partnership with Twitter after alcohol brands requested the microblogging service add the feature to protect them from legal scrutiny’ (Constine, J. 2012). However, this only applies to alcohol brands and not to Twitter accounts with explicit content. Twitter is developing with their rules and regulations but an age restriction is still yet to be put in place, but hopefully there will be, sooner rather than later.
Nonetheless, it is clear how important Twitter is to thousands, whether they are addicted or just enjoy seeing what people are doing. People love Twitter and it is constantly growing every day. The fact that people in the real world can involve themselves with celebrities at any opportunity is something that people have never had the chance to do pre-Twitter. It excites people and makes them feel involved. The fact that anyone can contact anyone is amazing in many peopleâ€™s eyes. The sense of community on Twitter is strong, thatâ€™s what we love the most and thatâ€™s the reason people keep coming back for more. Twitter is obviously a very powerful tool, it comes with its many pros but then just as many cons, but Twitter is what you make of it. The more you put in the more you get out.
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Anja Rudat*, Jürgen Buder*1, Friedrich W. Hesse*2 (2014 – TO BE RELEASED) Audience design in Twitter: ReTweeting behavior between informational value and followers’ interests Computers in Human Behavior Vol. 35 p.133
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Published on May 16, 2014