Thoughts before Oprah’s Twitter debut

April 16, 2009

There’s a rumor going around that Oprah has gained control of her eponymous Twitter handle, and that she’ll be posting her first tweet during the show tomorrow. You can imagine what kind of immediate impact that this will have on the service.

As a result, we’ve been thinking a lot about the recent explosion in popularity of Twitter.

There used to be a standard progression for people making their way through social media.

The online presence of the first digital natives seemed to evolve from writing online journals read by only four or five people to maintaining MySpace and Facebook profiles with a few dozen friends on to full-fledged blogs and Twitter accounts accessible by the general public.

Digital Natives at Work by Gerard Bierens on Flickr.
“Digital Natives at Work” by Gerard Bierens on Flickr.

Though other sites and services empowered them to take those steps, Twitter seems to have been the triggering mechanism for making social media into a more truly mainstream phenomenon.

Twitter’s simplicity took the focus off of the means of communication and put it right onto the communication itself.

It may have been that simplicity, along with the suddenness of communication via Twitter, that led mainstream media to embrace it as a way to get information to consumers as quickly as possible. National Public Radio and the New York Times, for example, have been using Twitter since the network was still in relative infancy.

Even celebrities of all kinds have embraced Twitter, from TV Host and comedienne Ellen Degeneres to basketball player Shaquille O’Neal to songwriter Colin Meloy.

Twitter has officially broken down the barriers between the common person and celebrity. We here at LunaWeb have to wonder if this is why people who haven’t really dipped their toes in the waters of social media are now doing cannonballs into the deep end of Twitter.

If so, this marks not so much a gradual evolution in people’s progression through social media as a sudden mutation.

Whereas the digital natives eased themselves in, this new flock of Twitter users seems to be jumping right into using publicly accessible forums.

It’s exciting to watch. Especially considering that many of these new users aren’t digital natives at all. They’re immigrants to the internet world. By jumping in like they have, they’re expressing a newly empowered willingness to learn a new – online – dialect.

Once these new digital immigrants are acclimated and fluent, however, and they decide they need something other than what Twitter has to offer, where do they go?

Will they behave like a flock of migratory birds, moving almost as a single organism, or will they simply quietly disperse, as though the party has ended?

One (completely unresearched) impulse, based on Facebook’s near-simultaneous bump in membership, is to say that this new social wave is like a flock of birds. It’s not exactly predictable, but it undulates gracefully, pulsing with each new possible direction.

Flock of Birds by Picture Perfect Rose on Flickr.

"Flock of Birds" by Picture Perfect Rose on Flickr.

Here at LunaWeb, we’ve been giving a lot of beginning social media lessons to our clients. We’re thinking about opening these up to the public. If you’re part of this new wave of users, please sound off in the comments. Let us know what you’d like us to cover.

Creative Commons License
blogpost by lunaweb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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