What does Twitter mean to you? Is it a way to engage with your friends and business networks? An opportunity to talk to celebrities and find out what they’re up to? A marketing tool to keep in touch with customers?
Or how about as an interactive news channel which allows you to find out minute by minute what’s going on in the world?
You may be surprised to know that this once purely social platform has now been re-categorized in the Apple App Store from a social networking app to “news”.
It’s now been a whole decade since Jack Dorsey sent the very first tweet on 21 March 2006. With that one historic yet simple tweet “just setting up my twttr” it’s unlikely that Dorsey, now CEO of the company, could have ever predicted exactly how popular the platform would become. But it’s now the third most popular social media platform in the world, second only to Facebook and YouTube and with over 310,000,000 monthly visitors.
Avid followers of social media will know it hasn’t always been this way. Once upon a time not so very long ago, Twitter was limping along at fifth place among the free social media apps – but a big change has come about which could well transform the way we think about Twitter forever. And it’s all about the news.
The platform now ranks top of the news apps, and whether that’s just the way things have organically evolved for the company or another of Dorsey’s clever plans to make Twitter king of the world remains to be seen. All we know is, as far as iOS is concerned, it’s now the number one place to go for news. Nobody really knows for sure who officially made the change, but since companies usually submit app descriptions and chosen categories direct to Apple, it’s a safe bet to assume this revelation came direct from Twitter themselves. It looks as though the change was made at the same time as the company’s latest app update which took place on 27th April this year, so it’s highly likely that Dorsey and his team changed the category themselves.
When you think about it, it starts to make sense. With some news apps often slow to get breaking news stories out into the public arena, many of us turn to Twitter to find out what’s happening in the world and engage in conversations with key players to get more information in real time. Although it may be considered foolish to rely on the average tweeter for accurate news stories, many reliable correspondents and journalists are now taking to Twitter to share their stories as they happen. Receiving the news this way isn’t just instant, it gives users access to photos and videos from eye witnesses. Take the death of Michael Jackson for example. Two of the star’s biggest fans, Cassie Hayes and Jasmine Coleman, were present at the site of his death before many of the rest of the world had even heard about it. There was just one way they were able to find out about it so quickly- Twitter.
Since that shocking day seven years ago Twitter has been the source of countless breaking news stories including the death of Amy Winehouse, the raid of Osama Bin Laden’s hideout, Japanese earthquakes and the discovery of ice on Mars. More and more of us are using the app as our go-to place for news stories, and this re-categorization is likely to open it up to an even wider audience.
It’s clear that since taking the helm Jack Dorsey has developed some big ideas for Twitter. Their move to top of the news apps will not only open the platform up to a wider audience, it will also give it a considerable amount more weight when it comes to being seen as a serious application. Since its rebirth as a news app, Twitter is sending out the message that it’s now about much more than sharing pictures of our lunch and naked celebrity selfies; it’s a grown up, legitimate platform for sharing breaking news stories as they happen.