Twitter – Beyond the figures

Twitter reaches 100 million active usersTwitter Last week Twitter reached 100 million active users. Their related blog post is littered with statistics of epic proportions; in just 5 years since @jack’s first tweet more than 50 million people are logging into Twitter and more than 230 million tweets are being sent every day.

More than 170 million had tweeted on the royal wedding by the time the couple had said “I do.”

At its height, confirmation of Osama bin Laden’s death reached more than 5,106 tweets per second.This figure was surpassed by the Hurricane Irene when tweets reached more than 8,600 per second.

These figures alone illustrate the enormous reach and impact of Twitter.

If the sheer size of these numbers is hard to grasp, here’s a look at smaller integers.

4801 is the number of followers Cumbria police (@cumbriapolice) currently have. That equates to just 100 London buses.

At IABC UK’s event last week DCC Stuart Hyde (@DCC_StuartHyde) discussed how his constabulary were embracing social media. While many private firms continue to ban employee access to Twitter and Facebook, Cumbria’s force are permitted on such sites for personal use at particular times. If his force are trusted enough to carry Tasers and guns, then Hyde argues, they should be trusted with social media.

It demonstrated that Twitter at a local level can have an impressive impact. Hyde realises the need to find the balance between, overuse, underuse, misuse and over-sharing. Their effectiveness online (it must be noted here that their social media presence goes well beyond Twitter) has led to Cumbria suspending the traditional church parish meetings in favour for online equivalents that have already far outstripped its predecessor in terms of numbers and interactions. This leaves more time for constables to be visible in locations where the public already congregate.Contrary to common view, social media has added benefits for the constabulary. They are using these tools to locate lost driver’s licence to illegal raves. And they don’t just listen; they talk too. They inform their followers of traffic incidents and weather warnings and alerted the public during the shootings last year.

Innovative ways of using Twitter

Being creative whilst using TwitterTwo equates to the number of smoothies I ordered whilst on holiday in Malta, another example of the ubiquity of Twitter as I actually tweeted my order to @CPHAzure. One of the hotel’s creative initiatives to promote their twitter presence to media-savvy albeit lazy sunbathers. This novel idea just highlights how innovative and varied businesses are being when it comes to Twitter. Moreover, just like Cumbria police, online activity has offline impacts and both fulfilling the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Is Twitter satisfying your Maslow needs?

Why has there been exponential uptake to update and communicate in just 140 characters in novel ways? Maybe we’ve always been hardwired & ready for Twitter and its social counterparts.

A recent study has shown a positive correlation between the size and complexity of social networks and the volume of the amygdala in the human brain - a key component of the “social brain”. The hypothesis suggests the evolutionary benefits of a highly developed social behaviour for the survival of the human race.

A timely study as the world’s population is set to hit 7 billion on 31st October and approximately 8.6% are on Facebook and 1.4% Twitter. When all the figures become too overwhelming and the sums too huge, sleep safe in the knowledge that our hairier forefathers got the picture; we’re social creatures.

-Sophia Cheng, Junior Consultant, simplygoodadvice

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