August 13, 2010

Microblogging - The Future of Blogging & Social Networking

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Microblogging is a form of multimedia blogging that allows users to send brief text updates or micromedia such as photos or audio clips and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, digital audio or the web.

The content of a microblog differs from a traditional blog in that it is typically smaller in actual size and aggregate file size. A single entry could consist of a single sentence or fragment or an image or a brief, ten second video. But, still, its purpose is similar to that of a traditional blog. Users microblog about particular topics that can range from the simple, such as "what one is doing at a given moment," to the thematic, such as "sports cars," to business topics, such as particular products. Many microblogs provide short commentary on a person-to-person level, share news about a company's products and services, or provide logs of the events of one's life.

The findings of a study by Emily Pronin of Princeton University and Daniel Wegner of Harvard University, pointing to a link between the short bursts of activity that microblogging frequently involves and feelings of elation, power and creativity, have been cited as a possible reason for the rapid growth of microblogging.

Several studies, most notably by Harvard Business School and Sysomos, have tried to analyze the usage behavior of Microblogging services. Many of these studies show that for services such at Twitter, there is a small group of active users contributing to most of the activity. Sysomos' Inside Twitter survey, based on more than 11 million users, shows that 10% of Twitter users account for 86% of all activity.

Twitter, Facebook and other microblogging services are also becoming a platform for marketing and public relations, with a sharp growth in the number of social media marketers. The Sysomos study shows that this specific group of marketers on Twitter is much more active than general user population, with 15% following more than 2,000 people. This is in sharp contrast to only 0.29% of overall Twitter users who follow more than 2,000 people.

Microblogging services have also emerged as an important source of real-time news updates for recent crisis situations, such as Mumbai terror attacks or Iran protests. The short nature of updates allow users to post news items quickly in real-time, reaching its audience in seconds.

Microblogging for organizational usage

Micro-blogging has the potential to become a new informal communication medium especially for collaborative work. Over the last few years communication patterns have shifted primarily from face-to-face communication to more online communication in E-mail, IM, and other tools. As more collaboration is being done remotely through technology, there are relatively fewer opportunities for face to face informal conversations. In addition because of time constraints at work due to employee downsizing there is more concern about interruptions along with convenience brought by IM and E-mail.

Many individuals like sharing the whereabouts and status updates in Microblogging. This highlights microblogging’s potential to support informal communication among co- workers. The areas where it looks to impact are the informational effects and the social and emotional effects. The informational effects include increased opportunistic valuable information sharing, expertise realizing, building and maintaining common ground. The social and emotional effects are mainly enhancing the feeling of connectedness among co-workers.

Issues with Microblogging
The main issues with micro blogging are privacy, security, and integration. Privacy is a major issue due to the concerns of broadcasting social or work information to everyone who follows their feed. About security, people are worried about the public seeing possible sensitive work information on public microblogging like Twitter. Integration is probably the hardest issue to overcome basically because the company and its employees have to adapt microblogging into the corporate culture. This will take time since companies need to recognize its value before they can embrace it.

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