Social Media Studies: What Twitter Has Taught Us in the Last Decade / Social Media / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Twitter turned 10 this year and it’s inspiring how much the world has changed since the first Tweet was posted.

Twitter turned 10 this year. It’s inspiring how much the world has changed since the first Tweet was posted.

The very vision we had on mass media, marketing, consumers or communication has dramatically evolved to the point of little resemblance.

And while we’ve felt like passive assistants of this metamorphosis, the truth is we had a bigger word to say in the development of social media than we’d think of.

When it comes to Twitter, everything from the @reply, to the hashtag or retweet, every significant improvement was a suggestion from its users after all, it’s the people that make it substantial. Without a robust community, there is no social media.

But it’s not just marketing and Twitter that changed. It’s the very fabric of our communication that went through a paradigm shift. In the attempt to see a status overview, we’re going to take a look at how Twitter changed us, marketers, communicators, brands and ultimately users.

Related Article:Twitter Identity Crisis? What 10,000 Character Limit Could Mean for Social Media

How Brands Communicate with People Differently

We’ve long passed the point where people would stare at banners on the street thinking: "what a great ad!". Today we’re installing extensions that prevent commercials and ads from being shows abusively.

However, customer service through Tweets has increased with over 2.5 times during the past two years, and so did brand engagement. Following this logic, there must be something that brands are ‘doing right’ to generate awareness in a world where it seems that all we do is run away from commercials.

Spontaneity is what they do. The Super-Bowl-lights-out-Oreo-Tweet-In scheme seems to work wonders - because it’s witty, it’s on the spot and unsophisticated, and it speaks up for people while being a little ironic at the same time. It is the best side comment of a hazard with a sweet brand integration to make you like it even more.

What happened is that the lights went out at the Super Bowl, and Oreo immediately posted this very witty photo tweet. This kind of commitment towards explaining everything through a brand experience is what drives people closer to your business.

Oreo Twiter
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And it’s not just being there. It’s being personal as well. Like JetBlue, who tweeted through a play pretend love story with one of their customers. This is the living proof that we don’t take serious communication campaigns seriously anymore, we need brands that we can talk to as if we were close friends, that understand our needs, and insert humor in their messages naturally. 

JetBlue Airways twitter feed
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Real-time communication is another milestone of the Twitter era. If you’re familiar with the TV news channels, you know that it takes a lot of processing before news land on our screens. The social media lives and breathes on the complete opposite of this. Being the first to say something is highly competitive, but truly satisfying.

Digital news agencies post more often than every hour on their social media accounts.


Search Engine Land twitter feed
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And traditional news organizations have embraced this trend, which changed the mainstream media paradigm from concise, well-presented news, to raw, diverse topics. As you can see in the screenshot below, the world’s biggest news agencies tweet at least once every hour during the day. 

Related Article:Follow These Rules For Following People on Twitter

BBC News - How Often Pages Post on Twitter
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In a world where not more than 10 years ago the news would change three or four times a day on a dedicated news TV channel, 20 minutes of silence on Twitter from a news agency is sometimes too much.

How People Communicate Differently with Brands

The very fact that Twitter has changed the question from What are You Doing? 

Twitter What Are You Doing? screen shot
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to What’s Happening? 

Twitter What's Happening? screen shot
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Suggests an alteration in the ultimate use of social media that needs a recap of its evolution. Of course, it’s not uncommon for Twitter to operate changes in the platform. The fact that it recently switched from the category social networking to news on Apple’s App Store does nothing but to prove how volatile and dynamic the platform is.

We know it started out as a status-based community, but it grew to monitor press, witness major social changes and organically switch through topics such as the Obama’s second term, the Arab Spring or Leo finally winning an Oscar.

But however popular we are among our friends, one of the web’s rules of thumb is that what one percent of the people create (and maybe another percentual dozen curates) 99 percent consumes. Twitter has taught us that it’s not necessary to separate the news from the entertainment, the digital marketers and the vloggers from the latest scientific discoveries and the world’s most dramatic drug rates, or from the cats.

Twitter has taught us that information, for whichever purpose we use it, is only important because it’s in our priority. And we, the consumers, have begun to prioritize it accordingly, to the point where it’s no longer socially acceptable to believe that economic collapse should be more important than a friend’s Instagram-filtered cat.

Erasing the communication barriers has led to some changes, such as a diminished difference between first-person journalism and blogging, or associating popularity with people we see on TV.

The way content comes in different shapes and sizes has revolutionized the way people talk with each other and brands engage with them equally. There is hardly a matter of semantics, as the core of our communication hasn’t completely changed.

But one of its alterations is images replacing a written reply. Ten years ago this was unheard of, and today we seem to love memes and Gifs and VIP-like emojis. And while you may believe it’s a little far-fetched to think this, I’m confident that the 140 character limit had a lot to do with this trend. As you can see in the screenshot below, it’s very often that emojis take over the 140 character-limit, as they seem to draw more attention than the written words that we’re so used to, we sometimes ignore.

Gary Vaynerchuk - Twitter Posts screen shot
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Twitter facilitated the popularity of digital VIPS - from vloggers to podcasters, everybody has an amazing story on how they became viral.

Gary Vaynerchuk - Vlogging twitter screen shot
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The medium that facilitates the content gives the idea of transparency, it’s readily available and intuitive, and it allows focusing on the socialization, and the communication purpose.

And while the perform is disruptive, it interlinks millions of messages and accounts, we’ve been taught to take this interaction as a natural process. The platform has become more and more intuitive as it made its product more complex, as to help the user browse without a fractured experience.

Related Article:5 Ways to Use Twitter for Social Selling (No Twitter Account Required!)


Twitter is not a place to be indifferent towards information, however diverse and non-interrelated. However, lifting the barriers between a public persona and a personal account has changed our perspective on VIPs, influencers, journalists and what we prioritize as relevant information.

The very possibility of a personalized feed of shortly-delivered news would have sounded impossible a decade ago, and it’s become what keeps us a minute too long awake at night.

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