The spawn of twitter

Jun 24, 2009 | Mobile & Web

By now everyone has heard about twitter, but I want to deepen your understanding of a few twitter related products and ideas that are coming to the forefront because of the services growing popularity as well as that of social media in general.

hashtags These are the #xyz stuff you see on twitter. This week and last, with the Iranian election protest in the front of every newspaper and cable news channel, “#iranelection” is on the tip of everyone’s twitter tongue. Hashtags are used by twitter users all over the world to identify a common topic, to unite the millions of tweets so that there is one “channel of conversation” The reason so many people can instantly tap into the latest news from the iranian protesters is because they are all searching for the #iranelection hashtag on twitter. There are many ways to do this, but I do it on my twitter client of choice, which is TweetDeck on the iPhone, and DestroyTwitter on the desktop. These clients perform a search every so often, so that any new tweets matching the #hashtags shows up pretty quickly.

 

Hashtags what s happening right now on twitter 1

 

The ringleader for hashtags is hashtags.org, which gives you a good view of the most popular topics that are being discussed on twitter. This is a tremendously useful tool now that twitter is the de facto hive mind, and #hashtags usage is basically a measure of what are the top topics in the collective consciousness. It’s a marketing tool to measure the public sentiments that will be useful to many.

For example, check out how the #iranelection hashtags spiked right after the election results were announced on the 06/13.

Hashtags iranelection

 

 

bit.ly and other url shorteners URL shorteners like tinyurl has been around for a long time, mostly to solve the problem of multiple-lines-long urls that people are sick of cutting and posting into email and documents. But Twitter’s presence really fueled this trend, because now your space restrictings isn’t about having the URL wrap the line in your email, but having to fit the entire message into 140 characters. URL shorteners are now essential if you use twitter at all. Bit.ly, a relatively new url shortener service, has managed to grow tremendously, and recently received a $2MM investment. Supposedly one of the reason why it’s gaining is because “bit.ly” saves 5 whole characters over “tinyurl.com”, giving you that much more room for the tweet!

 

If bitly is worth 8 million tinyurl is worth at least 46 million

 

Seriously: however, as more shared URLs go onto shortening services such as bit.ly, the statics that they are gathering can become qutie a good data gold mine. These links are not just being visited; for those you just bookmark them. These are links that are being passed around, being communicated and trafficked from one person to the next. I’d love to get access to these data, so that we can do Google Trends type of analysis on them.

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