It's Shaq's Fault Twitter Has Exploded

Yep, Twitter is still growing at a break-neck speed. In the past four months alone, Twitter’s traffic has zoomed at an exponential rate, according to Alexa. Having surpassed 14 million users earlier this month, Twitter is certainly on the rise. Alexa points out some key demographics when looking at Twitter’s growth, noting its global presence as well. This is important, because Twitter being so readily compatible with mobile devices has enabled the microblogging platform to grow worldwide very quickly. But what caused Twitter to finally go mainstream after being around for three years?

Celebrity Take Over

It was all Shaq’s fault. Or maybe Ashton Kutcher’s. Oprah could be to blame as well. These well-known celebrities, especially Shaq and Ashton, have latched onto Twitter like a bunch of early adopters at SXSW. They’ve also helped bring Twitter to the forefront of media coverage and current trends. There’s no better way to see faddish growth than to get a celebrity endorsement.
Celebrities take a liking to Twitter because of the transparency it offers as a communication tool. Twitter is easy and can be updated as simply as sending a text message. Now celebrities have a little bit more control over their web presence (with less work), and the fans are happy. Consider Twitter the latest form of a publicity stunt.

That Darn Fail Whale

The fail whale might have something to do with Twitter’s popularity, too. The loveable animation of the fail whale can be one of the most frustrating things you’ll see on Twitter when you’re really anxious to post something, but the reoccurring image hasn’t deterred Twitter’s growth in the slightest. The fail whale merely became another shared experience to discuss on Twitter itself, and has since reached cult status.
Granted, we don’t see the fail whale nearly as often as we used to, which has likely contributed to Twitter’s actual ability to see the extreme growth it’s currently experiencing. But we also saw enough of the fail whale in 2008 to remember it in fondness instead of hatred. Let’s keep it that way.

We Love Twitter Apps

But let’s not forget about Tweetdeck. The majority of the third party Twitter applications have had their hand at making Twitter the mainstream blogging platform it is today. If it weren’t for the Twitter APIs and all the developers out there that created useful apps for Twitter, the value of Twitter itself wouldn’t be as great. Twitter’s actual feature set leaves a lot to be desired. Enter, third party apps. From auto-follows to Twitter groups, key word follows and recommendations on which users to seek out, we’d be lost without apps like Tweetlater, TwitPic, Summize, Twitterfeed, and all the rest.

It’s All About the iPhone

And then there’s the iPhone. Twitter is designed to work with any mobile phone that can send and receive SMS, but smart phones have turned Twitter into one easy-to-use application. The more you can do from your phone, the better. And the more mobile the application, the more encouraged users will be to use Twitter. We’ve seen the iPhone commercials with The Submarines playing in the background.
Don’t act like you haven’t noticed the Twitter icon sitting front and center at the beginning of each commercial. Let’s not forget about the new Sprint Now Network commercial that notes the millions of theoretical customers sending a tweet “right now.” All these things indicate a mainstream adoption of Twitter and the necessity for mobile devices and network providers to highlight Twitter integration by default in order to make their products more appealing to the masses.

Jon Stewart Shakes Fist at Twitter