300 billion tweets have been sent since Twitter was created in 2006. Twitter’s users have access to some of the most instantaneous information in the world. The diversity of news, trending topics and entertainment attracts Internet users around the world to Twitter.
Students at the University of Denver and media professionals alike access Twitter on a daily basis to stay up-to-date on current events, hard news, celebrity news, advice on health and lifestyle choices and other trending topics.
“I don’t post that much, I mostly use Twitter to see what my friends are saying. I like that I can see what people I normally wouldn’t talk to, like President Obama or Justin Bieber are thinking or what they’re up to,” says DU Junior Senator, Tess Greenwald. How relaxed the social networking site can be attracts younger users who like to share “just dumb, funny things,” according to Greenwald. Socializing being important in social networking, Twitter allows relaxed socialization with friends, celebrities and other users across the globe.
Originally designed as a platform for to-the-point expression, Greenwald uses Twitter as it was designed with over 500 tweets.
Similarly, Anna Brown, a junior studying Data Analytics, says, “I can connect to my favorite comedians and other random, funny accounts. I use Twitter more from a comedic standpoint. I retweet funny posts and I tweet content I think other people can relate to.” It appears that DU students enjoy the entertainment aspect of Twitter as much, if not more, than the ability to share thoughts or news.
Without Twitter, neither Greenwald nor Brown would have seen or enjoyed the newest tweet-famous phenomenon–Damn Daniel.
Another favorite Twitter aspect is the speed at which users can receive information. A swift scroll through one’s timeline can relay myriad information to users. Brown, with over 200 followers, enjoys how she can stay updated on the news she wants without having to read lengthy pages-long articles. “Twitter is a social network that limits character use. It’s a tool to concisely express what you’re thinking. I like that I can scroll through my timeline in just a few minutes,” says Brown. The speed Twitter offers has distinguished it from all other social networks and news sources.
There are few other places on the web that allow users to access all the content they want in one place, with quick one or two sentence blurbs.
Although DU students are active on Twitter, finding news stories and keeping updated on current events does not seem to be a popular use of the network. Websites such as TheSkimm, The New York Times, Buzzfeed and Fox News were named favorite news sources. “Twitter has fallen in its status as a social network. It was so popular in high school, now no one uses it. It’s a dying form of social media and I definitely don’t use it to find news,” says Greenwald. Specifically, surveyed students claim to be more likely to visit news sites than to search Twitter for the same news.
Alternatively, professionals in the media industry are more likely to follow news sites on Twitter. “That’s where I get the “popular” headlines, or big hitting news…I also used [Twitter] as a tool to showcase myself when I applied for internships and jobs,” says Anna Hedlund, a Media Assistant with Sterling-Rice Group in Boulder. Still citing Vox and FiveThirtyEight as her most used news sources, Hedlund values Twitter for the professional opportunities it offers.
Seeing the benefit in corporate Twitter participation, Hedlund says, “When a Twitter is done well, it makes such an incredible difference. I think it increases brand loyalty big time.” While Hedlund, as a media professional, is excited to see where Twitter is headed “since tons of their big execs seem to be heading out the door fairly quickly,” she finds Twitter’s merit in information consumption rather than information sharing.
Whether students are looking for a quick laugh or media professionals are in search of a personal branding tool, Twitter offers the space to do it. With intersecting interests, unique ability to transition usage styles and millions of users, Twitter may be dying in the eyes of some, but remains the life of the party for others.