Dismissing A Decade Of Twitter Means You're Missing The Big Picture
March 15, 2016
Twitter turns 10 on March 21st, 2016!
And it all started with this first tweet from the company's CEO, Jack Dorsey:
Since then, Twitter has offered brands the opportunity to serve fans, build real communities through exchange, disseminate information faster to a wider base, and be discovered by a new audience every day.
There's also no denying that radio's traditional cume reach strategically merged with Twitter's reach can drive one other - even lifting ratings as Nielsen's TV Twitter ratings is discovering.
Yet, somehow there are still those in our storied industry detached from Twitter.
And while it's hard to value what you don't understand, Twitter has in fact become a big part of today's culture (and a larger part of your fans' screen time). So it should drive everyone to want to gain a better sense of what it means and how people use this platform.
Perhaps one way to help connect the dots is to take a look back to memorable moments in history and pop culture that actually played out on Twitter.
My first recollection of Twitter impact on news was 2009, when an eyewitness tweeted US Airways Flight 1549 landing on the Hudson River:
This was actually one of the first moments where "citizen journalists" broke a story visually on Twitter before traditional news outlets did. For many of us, it was a red letter day in Twitter history because the potential of consumer-driven breaking news reporting became a reality.
Also in 2009, Twitter was the source where many of us first heard about the death of pop icon, Michael Jackson:
In 2010, it was the first time Twitter was used as a disaster-relief tool in the wake of the Haiti quake:
And in 2011, you may remember when this man inadvertently live-tweeted the Osama Bin Laden raid:
This tweet actually led to the breaking news of Bin Laden's capture before the President of the United States could take to the podium to confirm.
From serious moments in our country's history to conversations between former rivals (like this one below), Twitter has given its users a front row seat to moments we would never have been so intimately involved with:
Early on, many of us watched how Sports and Twitter began feeding each other.
There's something dynamic about following a sporting event with thousands of other fans all around the country or world.
And the first sports tweet to ever resonate with the masses played out in 2012 when Green Bay Packers Lineman T.J. Lang tweeted about a botched call by "replacement refs" after the Packers played the Seattle Seahawks:
In fact, this was the third most retweeted tweet of 2012, just behind posts from Justin Bieber and President Obama.
Months later in 2012, a more serious, devastating event emerged. This time it was the American Red Cross who displayed the power of Twitter.
"Hurricane Sandy became the marquee event that showed the potential of what Twitter could do" according to Laura Howe, vice president of public relations for the American Red Cross.
Because Twitter is built as a texting platform, The Red Cross managed to track tweets from those affected and save millions of lives:
In 2013, we watched The Boston Marathon bombing tragedy play-out. This was perhaps the first terrorist attack on American soil in the age of Twitter (and the smartphone).
It's also the first where federal, state and local law enforcement collectively tapped into this platform to pass on correct information to the masses immediately.
Even the FCC used Twitter to pardon the expletive that was broadcast shortly after the bombings when Boston Red Sox David Ortiz addressed Fenway Park:
We also witnessed the first person to ever live tweet from a plane crash - that they were in!
David Eun, Head of Samsung's Open Innovation Center, shocked Twitter users when this showed up in their live feeds during the Asiana Plane Crash in San Francisco:
In 2014, it was the tweeted selfie seen around the world when over 3.3 million people retweeted Ellen DeGeneres during this epic moment in pop culture at The Oscars:
In 2015, the world would gather around the platform during the horrific attacks in Paris.
There was also this poignant last tweet from Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy before he passed.
And already in 2016 - we are seeing greater Twitter activity than anyone could predict during the Presidential debates.
Super Bowl 50 drew 3.8 million people tweeting about the game and its halftime show, and 1.8 million were tweeting about The Oscars.
Actually a record was broken during this year's Oscars. When actor Leonardo DiCaprio won for "Best Actor,' look how many tweets unfolded per minute:
That broke the previous 255,000 tweets per minute record which belonged to The Oscars in 2014.
For radio there have also been moments of Twitter awe.
Whether it has been spontaneous interaction between the artists and our stations - like this moment when Aerosmith's Tom Hamilton randomly tweeted about listening to the legendary classic rocker, KLOS, in Los Angeles:
To which KLOS responded:
To the times we are making a fan's day with a response:
Or simply following them back:
We now get to be even closer with the audience and the artists we play.
There are so many more moments that have played out on Twitter - too many to list. The point is - we miss out on a huge part of today's culture when we dismiss this platform.
Perhaps Biz Stone, one of Twitter's founders, puts it best, "[Twitter] is such a simple tool, yet people have done so many amazing things with it."
It offers everyone a voice.
Happy Birthday, Twitter! Here's to another ten...
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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