What Does It Mean to Tweet?


Social media is about conversation and sharing. Twitter limits each message, which is called a "tweet," to 140 characters. Since links can extend to many characters in length depending on how they are written, every word in a tweet must count.

As on other social media platforms you must have a Twitter account to send tweets. Unlike Facebook or Google+ there is only one way to limit who sees your updates, in the form of a protected profile. Protecting tweets is an all or nothing proposition so most people choose to stay public on this platform.

Although Facebook and Instagram were more popular with teens in 2014, Twitter growth remained positive.

Who Uses Twitter?

  • At the time of publication, Twitter had more than 645 million users with an average of 310 million unique visits each month. Twitter remains in the No. 2 spot behind Facebook, the most popular social media app. In 2014, Twitter said its average number of tweets per day topped 500 million. On Feb. 2, 2015, the day after the Superbowl, more than 700 million tweets were sent.

    Who is sending all these tweets and what are they discussing? Social media's fastest growing demographic is senior citizens. Although only 18 percent of seniors log into Twitter each day, the number of teens who do so is closer to 40 percent.

    Twitter has been woven into the fabric of everyday events in the last few years. The most popular sporting event in 2014 was the World Cup, generating 672 million tweets. Almost 25 million tweets were sent during 2014's Super Bowl telecast. Fans watch television differently today than in years past, tweeting about their favorite shows using hashtags to compare notes, such as #idol for American Idol or #GoT for Game of Thrones.

Twitter vs. Other Social Media Apps

  • Twitter has remained in the No. 2 spot behind Facebook for several years now, and LinkedIn and Pinterest are close behind at No. 3 and No. 4. Facebook is a place for discussion, while Twitter is seen more as a place to gather and share information such as quotes or links to articles and blogs. LinkedIn is solidly branded for business use, while Pinterest and Instagram are visually focused around pictures.

Twitter and World Events

  • World events have played out on the Twitter stage in a variety of ways. Sometimes the app has been a conduit for people to communicate, as it was with the Arab Spring in 2012. The Ferguson protests in 2014 generated about 18 million tweets.

    Televised political events like debates or the State of the Union address are discussed live on Twitter using hashtags like #StateOfTheUnion. World events can often be tracked on Twitter in real time, since social media now affords most people in the world the opportunity to send out live on-the-scene reports.

    Natural disaster reporting and relief coordination has changed dramatically with the advent of social media. During Hurricane Sandy, organizations like FEMA used social media to relay up-to-the-minute information on affected areas during the storm. When Japan was rocked by a tsunami in 2011, a hospital worker coordinated with the U.S. ambassador through Twitter to help get patients moved out of the danger zone.

Using Twitter

  • Anyone can sign up for Twitter. Simply go to the site and create an account, which requires a name, email address and password. Based on the username you type in, Twitter suggests available username options. You must agree to the company's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy before the account is set up. The site also offers an option to tailor the app to your recent browsing history.

    Once you've signed up, add a photo and a basic bio and choose your setting and design preferences. The best way to learn how to tweet is by observing others or searching the Internet for more Twitter help.

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