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Eight years ago as a candidate then-Senator Barack Obama showed how to use Twitter and other social media as a marketing force in his campaign to connect with younger voters. At the time, most adults over a certain age did not know that a “Tweet” was something other than a bird sound. Now, every dictionary does and Twitter tweets are a 10-year-old worldwide phenomenon.
The first message posted on March 21, 2006, by the company’s founder Jack Dorsey posted the first message: “Just setting up my twttr.” While it is not clear why he abbreviated Twitter, it unintentionally set the precedent of creative abbreviations to first in the constrictive 140-character limit on Tweet sizes to be compatible with SMS messaging,
In the 10 years since the first Twitter tweets, even critics of the site have to admit it has been popular and a social force, even if Wall Street has questions about long-term value. Over the past decade, the social media platform has become an instant media reporting source, changed how individuals relate and try to influence each another, been a force for societal protest and interaction and enabled some celebs to amass large armies of followers/fans.
Top tweets in the last 10 years included celebrity ones like Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar-hosting selfie but also included an offer from Pedigree to donate food to dogs in need for every retweet they received.This split personality for how the site is used fuels detractors who note that #DWTS, #RHONJ and voting on The Voice attract a lot of attention, but so does #BlackLivesMatter, #OscarsSoWhite and #Bring Back Our Girls.
Even the use of # has changed with Twitter. It used to be known as the number sign or pound sign (it is still the latter on voice response systems). When learning to type years ago, most people found the # as useful as an ampersand. Now, both symbols are widely used by everyone. The # pronounced as “hashtag” has become common vernacular. The use of hashtags can be sarcastic, stupid or commercial (or all 3?). However, the symbol and accompanying slogans have been embraced to rally people around social issues and become a means of showing support.
Here are the top three truly “social media” employed hashtags, according to the company:
- #Ferguson, which came about from the racial protests there, was tweeted more than 27 million times.
- After the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the county, 12.8 million tweeted #LoveWins.
- The #BlackLivesMatter tag has been used 12 million times – so far.
While the social media site has 350 million users now, it still has issues proving itself as a long-term profitable business. Wall Street is less than supportive these days and the company has lost $40 billion in market value since its initial IPO when the stock went up to $69 per share; it is at $16.88 as this is being written. The company still has to find a way to boost revenue and commercialize that usage without offending users.
In 10 years, Twitter has a lot of people who look to its tweets for instant news updates and the latest on someone they follow. The company thanked users on its birthday blog for their support. “Throughout the years, you’ve made Twitter what it is today and you’re shaping what it will be in the future,” the blog read. They then added, “Thank you for making history, driving change, lifting each other up and laughing together every day.”
Written and Edited by Dyanne Weiss
Twitter: 10 Tweets that nearly broke the internet
Twitter: 13 Twitter Hashtags That Made Identity Part of Everyone’s Conversation
Washington Post: These 10 Twitter hashtags changed the way we talk about social issues
PC Magazine: Twitter Celebrates a Decade of Tweets
Fortune: On the Occasion of its 10th Birthday, a Tale of Two Twitters