On Monday Twitter’s programmer and users celebrated five years of the micro-blogging service. The first human tweet, sent famously by co-founder Jack Dorsey, dreamed only of “inviting coworkers.” Not exactly Samuel Morris’s “What hath God wrought?“, but the stunning vagueness of that statement could work in a Twittersphere of some half dozen colleagues.
Jump to January 2010 and, according to, the San-Fran-based company was up to 130 employees. As of today, that number has jumped to 400 – a growth of three-fold in just 14 months.
What is the state-of-Twitter in the commercial and non-profit communities? Twitter is trying to change it tack toward greater advertising potential, but its status as a social hive of shared non-corporate information remains paramount. At least for users.
some of the ways Twitter was hoping to control or standardize (your choice) the user-experience via third-party applications, largely in an effort to entice advertisers to use the service. Despite Twitter’s phenomenal and universal presence (some 177 million tweets were sent from around the world in the 24 hours after ), it finds itself in a similar quandary that traditional news media find themselves in: can you raise money through advertising and/or subscriptions for a service that has largely been free for the consumer?
If you have seen or enjoyed (your choice) The Social Network, one of the tensions of the story is the struggle to remain cool, somewhat underground, and non-commercial while being ubiquitous, stunningly popular, and having advertisers throw millions of dollars your way to commercialize your product.
As Margaret Heffernan at BusinessNet clearly points out, thus far, efforts to allow advertising on Twitter have been so subtle that they subvert the point of advertising:
Recent forays into promoted tweets – ads that turn up in Twitter search results – and promoted trends – which allow companies to add their messages to hot topics of the moment – have attracted the company’s first advertisers. But they’re so subtle it’s hard to believe they’re compelling enough to make the business profitable. In part, this is because one of the best things about Twitter – respect for its users – makes gross commercial intrusion incompatible with the ethos of the service itself.
And the ethos of the service seems precisely the quality that makes Twitter the phenomenon it is. Even if you are not devoted Twitter-head, you are likely aware of the influence the service has had on theand the Arabian peninsula. And on raising money for relief in Haiti and Japan.
Deepa Chaudhary, a millennial with a vibrant Twitter following, posted a birthday card to Twitter at Dutiee.com that outlines the influence the service has had both in. How will thrive if or as (your choice) Twitter strives for commercial viability will be well worth watching – especially if, as Ms. Heffernan suggests, the social value of the service can not bring steady money in over the next couple of years.
Will Twitter celebrate a ten-year birthday? Will periodic commercials be bearable for the many nonprofits and constituents and donors who depend on it to spread the word and raise funds? Thus far, we seem to have accepted the commercialization of Facebook.