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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twitter is taking over

This post was made for the IE Corporate Communicator Challenge. Prospective MA in Journalism at IE students were encouraged to: "Expose a case of disruptive innovation within the industry of journalism and the essential factors that made it a triumph".

In line with Harvard Business academic, Clayton Christensen's definition of "disruptive innovation", Twitter became a service that took root at the bottom of the media market, and then relentlessly moved up market, eventually replacing letters as a tool of communication to the masses, for example. It has not yet replaced television or newspapers but it may in the future. Digital book sales have overtaken print book sales already. Means of media consumption are changing quickly. Twitter is as major gamechanger in this evolution.

Some may argue that Twitter started as a way of social communication between a person and their friends or acquaintances.
It was, in a sense, a competitor to Facebook. It was a simpler Facebook because it allowed people to express how they feel or tell the world where they were and why. This was communicated in a concise manner.

People did not then need to scrawl a person's Facebook page. But one cannot understate the ability of Twitter as a tool to voice opinion. People can unleash their opinionson the "Twitterverse". There, other people can expose themselves to these opinions. If you are famous, you will probably gain more exposure, or, at least, gain it more quickly than the non-famous do.

The media quickly realised that it could use Twitter to spread itself throughout the globe. They could improve brand awareness on an incredible scale. They could gain new customers too. Newspapers and television media outlets could use Twitter to get into peoples' heads. People did need to agree to follow these companies but if enough people tweeted about corporate ideas and news, the companies would "trend" as newsworthy subjects. Twitter was used for finding information for stories and stories themselves.

If it is trending on Twitter, it is worth looking at for a news agency. These topics help to fund profitable stories in terms of news reach . More money can be made as a result of more people subscribing to paid online conetent because they liked a link on Twitter. Even if the contentwas free, they could be exposed to advertisements, which would make money for the site displaying them.

Journalists also develop their profiles by using Twitter. They are essentially standing on gigantic soapboxes. Their voices have been boosted. However, much of Twitter may not be trusted because the checks are not there. How much can one regulate a soapbox?

Alistair Anderson South Africa

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