What is Twitter? It's Social News Networking | White.net

What is Twitter? It's Social News Networking

By Tad Chef / May 8, 2010

The news spread fast on Twitter.

Welcome back to our weekly Twitter column. Two weeks ago I wrote about how many people and businesses don’t get Twitter yet and tried to explain it using a metaphor. This time I will try a different approach based on a scientific study. The study by Korean researchers based asked whether Twitter is really social networking or something else. Most notably whether Twitter is similar to a news site.

The researchers have found out that Twitter is far less a social network than other sites like Facebook or even Flickr and far more similar to old school news sites. The press had difficulties to actually come to terms what Twitter is then. I have a very logical name for that baby: Social News Networking.

Twitter is like a peer to peer network for news.
It’s the Napster, Kazaaa or Bittorrent for news. You still network with other people but the purpose of it is not networking in itself but sharing news. So basically Twitter combines social networking and social news. Do you remember Digg?  few years ago this was a seemingly popular social news site. It was very primitive and it tried to mimic newspapers by having a frontpage. It didn’t work though. Just recently Digg has announced layoffs.

Twitter has no front page, it’s a network.
It’s decentralized. You can still find out what’s popular but the news doesn’t depend on popularity. It depends on how good networkers people are. In case you don’t connect with other people well, nobody will listen to you. You can also have thousands of followers who are passive and not worth a dime/penny. So the news spread via the social network. This way even niche news have their place unlike on Digg where only lowest common denominator main stream prevails.

On Twitter the people are actually better connected than in real life.
While for real there are sixth degrees of separation on Twitter there are only four. It means that you are able o connect easier, faster with others and even with celebrities you would otherwise never communicate with. So news spread also faster on Twitter. Twitter changed the official purpose from “what are you doing?” to “what’s happening” a wgile ago and we all provide the news all the time in real time when it happens. Just two years ago the news about the DOW plunging 1000 points reached with instantly on Twitter.

Twitter is the best place to break and spread news.
We knew it all along.
Now we have the scientific proof for it. How can we use this for our advantage? Make sure to connect with your followers in a lively way. The study also has shown that not the sheer number of followers determines the reach of each individual Twitter user but how active an account is.

Twitter is social news networking, so socialize and network to spread news. Don’t just collect followers like stamps. Make sure to talk with them.

Do you agree with my Twitter definition?

In case you don’t:

  • Why not?
  • What is Twitter in your opinion?
  • How do you use it?
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