Friday, 6 May 2011

Happy Twitterversary

Social media has revolutionised the way that people communicate with one other, so a meeting between a company in Beiijing and one in London no longer has to involve the use of planes. A laptop, computer or mobile phone is all that is needed to meet ‘face to face’. With Uniquethinking celebrating its two year Twitter anniversary, we have decided to take a look at just how far social media has come.

Businesses, organisations, charities and institutions have become prolific users of social media sites such as Flickr, Facebook and Twitter over the years. A strong example is the British royal family. 2010 saw a Facebook page for ‘The British Monarchy’ created and, during the royal wedding, it was used to great effect. With an estimated 2 billion people tuning in to watch Kate and Will wed, the page was quick to post twitpics, upload links to the royal Youtube channel with wedding footage and even posted a link to Flickr where the official royal wedding photographs were being hosted. This was a great way of engaging their fans and, with the whole world watching, probably resulted in an increase in fans for the page.

This level of engagement by businesses and organisations has led to great innovation in how the sites are used. For example, NASA manages around 100 Twitter accounts and astronauts regularly tweet about their daily routines from space. To further engage fans NASA also arranges ‘tweet-ups’ allowing Twitter fans to visit a NASA location and meet with astronauts, leaders and programme managers, which has been an extremely popular move. The National Trust has followed in a similar vein by giving control of a live working farm to 10,000 people via social media in a bid to connect people with food production on farms.

The everyday user has also seen a change in the way that sites can be used. Increasingly news stories are not being broken by journalists but by the average Twitter user. The raid which resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden was unwittingly reported via Twitter by computer programmer Sohaib Athar who, as the raid was taking place, tweeted:

“A huge window-shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope it’s not the start of something nasty.”

This was later followed up by:

“Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it”

Social media has even evolved to ensure that the older generations are not left out. Grandparents now have their own social networking site in the form of forum-based Gransnet, giving them a place to discuss life as grandparents.

Clearly social media has become a force to be reckoned with and as more people begin to see the potential of this as a business and social tool, innovation will continue.