After reading Matt's Twitter blog that he published a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd take the opportunity to write a follow-up piece about my own experiences with the increasingly popular micro-blogging [-Censored-] social networking service of the moment. What I found particularly interesting about Matt's blog were some of the comments that readers had left. Whilst there aren't many, what is evident from these comments is something that I've noticed on a much larger scale when chatting to friends, family and work associates about the new social networking phenomena - You either love it, or you hate it! It wouldn't be the first time that I've seen this love/hate separation either. I remember there being a similar apprehension and reluctance to get involved when Facebook was still in it's early days. Nowadays though, with more than 200 million users worldwide, it's unusual to come across a person who *hasn't* got a profile on the social networking behemoth. Will we see the same take up and general acceptance of Twitter as a social networking medium? A market research company called Nielsen Online have already published figures showing that Twitter take up in the UK grew by a massive 1,689% from February 2008 to February 2009 alone - That's an estimated 1.78 million UK adopters! I have to admit that I'm one of Twitter's admirers. I've been well and truly sucked in and find it an extremely useful tool as both a source of news and as a real-time search engine. Let me provide you with an example of the latter: Back in January, Google experienced a problem that caused all search results to be flagged as malware. I happened to be online when this happened and wondered whether or not it was a problem at my end or something that was affecting other users too. The problem was only evident for a short period of time, but whilst it was happening there was no acknowledgement of the problem's existence on Google's blog, neither did a Google search return any similar reports of problems. It was at this point that I turned to Twitter's search API. By entering the search term 'google' I knew immediately that it wasn't just me experiencing problems as there were countless other reports on the 'Twittersphere' from users having exactly the same problem as me. That's one of the things I like about Twitter, there's no 'proper' way to use it and different people use it in different ways. I use my personal account to keep in touch with my friends, keep up to date with the latest news and discover new and entertaining stuff on the web. On the other hand, I use Plusnet's Twitter account to offer support to our customers, post service announcements and promote the company brand. Whether you love it or hate it Twitter seems to be eveywhere you look. It's in the papers, it's getting parodied, celebrities are getting in on the act and there's even a fan club to show appreciation for the loveable (if not slightly frustrating) 'fail whale' that appears when Twitter's servers are under load! YouTube have recently added a Twitter button to their video clips and Vodafone have recently announced that they've started offering a free SMS service for Twitter users in the UK (something that has been available in the states since the social networking site's inception, but was withdrawn for users this side of the pond last year due to the 'high costs of mobile text messaging in the UK' ). Whichever way you look at it, it seems like Twitter's here to stay. One thing that does remain unclear though is what the future holds for the micro-blogging phenomena. After all, it costs money to run a service like Twitter and one has to question what revenue, if any, the site brings in. Last month there were claims that Twitter may soon start charging for corporate use and there was even speculation at one point that Google were looking to buy the company (which some might argue isn't a great idea). In a recent blog post, Twitter founder Biz Stone posted that "...we hope to begin iterating on revenue products this year." In the same piece however, he also goes onto say "...whatever we come up with, Twitter will remain free to use by everyone—individuals, companies, celebrities etc." - I'll leave it to you the reader to make of that what you will. So there you have it, love it or loathe it I don't think we've heard the last of Twitter and I can only see it increasing in popularity as the year progresses. If you're already using Twitter then make sure you visit our page and follow Plusnet. If you're not using Twitter then what are you waiting for? You never know, you might actually like it! .Bob Pullen Plusnet Comms Team
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