There are a handful of other microblogging services out there, such as Plurk, and even apps within Facebook, that let people send out short status messages. But the great thing about Twitter is that it’s so simple. It’s like comparing the almost-sparse Google’s search page to the cluttered interfaces of of other engines like Yahoo and MSN. Twitter’s own interface doesn’t give you much in terms of bells and whistles in its basic form. If you’re not too tech-savvy, it’s easy enough to understand. You just input your status or your message, and hit the update button, and you’re done. The web interface for viewing your friends’ tweets is simple, as well-it’s just a single reverse-chronologically ordered timeline of tweets.
If you’re the more tech-oriented, Twitter does offer advanced features, like searches, trends, and the like. Third-party applications expand the functionality of the platform by adding multi-column views, trending analysis and the like. But the basic functionality still remains.
Desktop and Mobile Applications
Twitter lets you get into the service not only through its web interface. Since it opened up its API, there have been dozens of third party applications that let you do just about anything. If you’re the type who wants to see everything in one view, you can use TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop on your computer. If you prefer to tweet while on the go, you can use SMS, or one of the more popular mobile applications like Tweetie for the iPhone or Gravity for Symbian phones. Giving users different ways of using Twitter has made it very popular especially for users who like tweeting on the move.
Your Friends are There
The tipping point for any social media service is actually that point where the service is getting widespread acceptance from your friends. After that, there’s no point in using other similar apps if you have to invite friends all over again. For instance, are you willing to sign up to each and every new microblogging service that someone recommends? Most probably not. You’re on Twitter already. Your friends are there already. Almost everyone who matters is already on Twitter. With this in mind, there is simply no incentive to move elsewhere.
Twitter has made appearances in major traditional publications such as the New York Times and Time Magazine. It’s not only because of the widespread use, but also because how Twitter has changed how people consume and share information, much like how full-fledged blogging did in 2005. For instance, Twitter was among the means that concerned citizens of Iran spread the word about alleged election fraud in their most recent presidential elections. It doesn’t mean that Twitter is replacing mainstream media in being a reliable source of news, but it sure is becoming a good medium for transmitting raw information as it happens.
Who doesn’t love celebrities? People who are fond of buying celebrity-oriented tabloids and magazines are sure to love Twitter because of the celebrities who have embraced the medium to reach out to the public. Reading updates from celebrity Twitter users almost feels like being a paparazzo yourself. But this time, there are not commentaries or editorials from columnists or celebrity writers. You get the latest from the celebs themselves, whether they be actors, singers, politicians, or even internet celebrities. It makes them more human and real to the rest of us.
Granted, some of these celebrity Twitter accounts are maintained by publicists and media agents, but you can tell that a lot are updated by the owners themselves. Twitter gives celebrities a voice that’s surprisingly genuine.