Happy Sixth Birthday Twitter and how you've shaped the world

Posted on 21st Mar 2012 by Katy Cowan in Blog

Oh how they grow up so fast. One minute we were asking ourselves 'What's all this Twitter nonsense all about?', the next we're looking back on six years of tweets, follows, lists and unfollows. Six whole years of micro-blogging that has brought the entire world together in a fascinating, global conversation.

It was March 21 2006 when Jack Dorsey tweeted the first ever tweet on Twitter - something along the lines of 'Just setting up my twttr'. Today, there are over 500 million users worldwide.

But what's happened since its inception? Has Twitter had any impact on our lives? You bet it has. Let's start with 2006. It was the warmest year on record in the UK; rock star Pete Doherty was in and out of court; we saw the woman with the world's first face transplant; Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills announced their split; Australian naturalist Steve Irwin died; and Tony Blair announced he would step down as prime minister. 2006 seems like such a long time ago doesn't it!

Compare six years ago to the events of 2011 and you can suddenly see how Twitter and social media in general has shaped the world today. We saw the Egyptian revolution, the England riots (allegedly started on Twitter), Occupy Wall Street, protests in Spain and Greece and Uprisings throughout the Middle East which continue today... All of which could not have been started or shared with the globe without Twitter.

And what about the way we consume news? Significant events are no longer something we discover from journalists or the morning newspapers. Today, we hear everything via Twitter. That's exactly how we first heard about the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden... It didn't come from a press conference, it came from one of the al-Qaeda leader's unwitting neighbours, tweeting about loud helicopters outside his home.

The world has completely changed and a lot can be attributed to Twitter. The micro-blogging site has even transformed the way we communicate with brands. It has given us a voice. It has turned the entire system on its head. Brands no longer advertise to us. They have to listen to our needs, wants and desires. When we complain, they can't ignore us anymore. They have to respond and deal with things accordingly. If a brand launches a new product and we don't like it, they have to respond and adapt. It's fascinating to see the power shift.

Corporate heads or governments no longer sit at the top of the pyramid, telling those below them how things are going to work. The pyramid is now upside down and the people sit above the 'powers that be'. Thanks to Twitter, we now have an inverted pyramid of power. The people speak out, the governments (and brands) are forced to listen. Look at what's happening in Russia, Syria, Greece.. even the UK and the US. Look at the recent Kony 2012 campaign which tried to encourage a mass movement of support, calling for justice and the arrest of Joseph Kony, and of course the sad breakdown of Jason Russell afterwards.

Today, people can start movements of their own at the click of a button. They can gain a huge amount of support through Twitter, simply by communicating via 140 characters to their own followers. And their followers can spread the message as well. And so on and so on.

Today, on its sixth birthday, Twitter can be very proud of one achievement and one achievement alone - it has changed the world as we know it, and definitely for the better. Happy Birthday Twitter!

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