Mention in article about Twitter

10 Things Twitter Won't Tell You

Sara Germano

1. "Want to make a big impact? Good luck."

Twitter, the social-media platform that lets users communicate in short posts called tweets, has

exploded since its launch in 2006, from 15,000 accounts then to 200 million today. "Active users" attract an average of just under 5,000 followers (those who choose to receive a given user's tweets automatically), according to independent research site Twitalyzer -- but the number of subscribers isn't necessarily the best measure of impact. "Not all Twitter accounts are created equal," says Twitalyzer creator Eric Peterson.Harvard Business Review found 10 percent of users create 90 percent of Twitter's content. But while Lady Gaga and President Obama rank among the most followed (roughly 12 million and 9 million, respectively), Twitalyzer each day deems a different user "most influential" -- like San Francisco "interaction designer" Joshua Kaufman, who has fewer than 7,000 followers. "It's not a popularity contest," says Peterson; it's the frequency and volume of communication -- how often and with whom you converse -- that determines who's making a mark. Twitter, for its part, says you can have an impact whether you have "five followers or 5 million."

9. "You'll just have to trust us."

When it comes to celeb tweeters, Twitter helps you distinguish authentic accounts from fakes, marking "verified" profiles with a blue check mark. But when it comes to the specifics on how they're earned, no one's telling. Charlie White and Meryl Davis, the 2011 World Figure Skating Champions in ice dance, use separate Twitter accounts to engage fans and alert them about public appearances, though only White has a verified account. Davis says Twitter contacted her several times about verifying her account during the 2010 Olympics, when the pair won a silver medal, but never got the seal. White says he was never contacted, but "I logged in one day, and it was just verified." Twitter policy says verified accounts are for those "who deal with identity confusion regularly on Twitter," though neither Davis nor White have had to fend off imposters. A Twitter spokesperson says verifications are handled "on a one-off basis," drawing on a variety of factors, and that "we often work with the people surrounding public figures."


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