Tidbits from a Former Twitter Hater: PART III

(Read PART I and PART  II)

The times they are a’changing. An integral part of Twitter’s 340 million daily tweets and $8 billion success—and my inevitable crumbling to its power—is that it consistently updates and irons out the many details of its platform for easier use. The business model of the platform has gone through multiple iterations, like granting firehouse access to Google, Bing, and eventually startups and offering promoted tweets, trends, and accounts to turn a profit. But with a booming user base that soared from 1.3 million to 200 million registered users in 3 years, the world is responding and is actually starting to change for Twitter. Here are a few things Twitter and health wonks can look forward to in the near future:

Quality not quantity: As Twitter continues to grow in popularity, the likelihood of meaningless followers or spam-like information grows, too. While having a high tweet count and a large following were easy metrics to measure a handle’s popularity a few years ago, businesses are starting to look at the actual quality of conversation with followers to show success. Connections for connection’s sake no longer resonate, so campaigns will be forced to develop meaningful, effective online relationships and messaging.

Profile facelift: As mentioned before, visuals go a long way—literally around the world—in the online forum, so Twitter adopted a new look for its profile pages with more multimedia integrated as of Tuesday. Similar to the Facebook redesign for Timeline, users can now post a larger background photo (or header) for their profile to give it more personality (find step-by-step how-to instructions here). Additionally, photos and videos that were previously difficult to pinpoint if you went searching for them too long after the original posting are now archived and categorized together above the fold on the user’s main profile page for easier access.

Twitter for good: The Twitter phenomenon has also spurred on new initiatives that use the channel’s capabilities to develop new projects doing a lot of good. Some of my personal favorites are Symplur’s Healthcare Hashtag Project, which compiles free lists of popular health topics and industry influencers on Twitter for public health and nonprofit groups to use when developing health campaigns; MappyHealth, which is a new product being rolled out in coordination with Health and Human Services that uses geographic mapping tools to detect, control, and prevent illness outbreaks in real time by monitoring the frequency of disease-related tweets; and CDC’s National Prevention Information Network (NPIN) uses Twitter to host events like virtual chats, interviews, and an occasional blitz to bring the most up-to-date, relevant information to their network of professionals across the globe.

Fast forward 5 years from when Twitter and I first met, and I couldn’t be happier to admit how wrong I was. The platform has become a functional tool that has revolutionized health, policy, cultures, communication, and more—and, believe it or not, this former Twitter Hater is now one of its biggest advocates.

Still need a push in Twitter’s direction? Or just want a better understanding of social media in general? Join us next Thursday, September 27 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. for Danya’s Social Media Day and help us celebrate the digital revolution!

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