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A social networking and real time micro blogging site that restricts users to messages of 140 characters in answer to the question ‘what are you doing?’ These short messages are called ‘tweets’ and were originally based on a short message service (SMS) protocol. The author's profile appears on the site and the author's subscribers are known as followers. The Twitter service can be used to post and receive messages to a network of contacts. A short message is sent to your Twitter account, and the service distributes it to all followers

Twitter was developed from an idea by Jack Dorsey. The name Twitter was based on its dictionary definition as a ‘short burst of inconsequential information’. It was first launched in 2006 and became a separate company in 2007 founded by Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. In 2010, about 4 bn tweets are sent every quarter.

Twitter can be used in various aspects of marketing. Twitter can be used as a promotional tool to building credibility and influence. Most marketers use it to drive traffic back to their company's own website. Others use it to monitor tweets about their brands and what Twitter users are generally saying about a brand. Politicians have seen the value of Twitter: it was used extensively by the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign. Commercial organizations use it to promote special offers; news agencies to promote their news items; celebrities use it to develop their personal brands and to communicate with their fan base.

See also web 2.0; appendix 2. Main website

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