Since last year, The Hanyang Journal(HJ) has been receiving Hanyangians’ opinions through the HJ's Twitter account, @HanyangJournal. HJ originallyreceived feedback from its readers via postcards attached in each edition, Hanyangian.com and e-mail. Although HJ already has several ways to reach the readers, we have decided to open a Twitter account also. The reason why HJ and other major media that have Twitter accounts made this decision is that they appreciate Twitter’s communicating power.
Twitter is more open than any other social networking services(SNS) including Facebook and Cyworld. Not only is it open to non-followers, but it is also easier to access than other SNSs. With other SNSs, users can protect their postings by utilizing private protection settings, but Twitter does not have these settings. The only thing users have to do to receive others' comments is to click “follow”. By following someone or organizations, users can more directly and immediately communicate with each other. As a result, it can rather be considered as a type of media.
Thanks to the prevalence of smart phones, users are able to tweet each other regardless of time and place so Twitter’s function as media is getting more powerful. For instance, it actually was through Twitter that the death of Osama bin Laden was reported first. Keith Urbahn, an aide to the former United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, implied Osama bin Laden’s death in a tweet. It was half an hour later that the media reported it. Targeting unspecified individuals, Twitter can deliver information immediately.
Twitter is also used as an online forum to organize entire revolutions. The recent Jasmine Revolution that usurped entire regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya were almost solely progressed through Twitter and Facebook. The infamous revolt at Midan Tahrir was organized through Twitter users sharing their rage through tweets. The power of Twitter, more specifically its power to bring scattered individuals together and unite them under the flag of a shared cause.
Immediacy is not the only thing that Twitter provides its users. It also gives its users a wider range of media opportunities. Let us look at some users who have numerous followers in Korea. Not surprisingly, most of them are TV celebrities. However there are some exceptions: best selling novelist Lee Oi-soo, Park Gyeong-cheol, a surgeon also known as the “countryside doctor”, Kim Ju-ha, an anchor at MBC and even normal people. They are also selected as the most influential Twitterers in Korea by koreantwitters.com. The most influential Twitterers are decided not only by the number of followers they have, but also by the number of re-tweeted comments, replies and comments. Looking into the ranks of these top influential Twitterers, it is shown that they have something in common; they are all non-celebrities and are introducing themselves as some kind of “communicator” such as reporters, bloggers, writers, politicians and so on. The reason why their comments are re-tweeted continuously is they share their own opinions on various issues. They make opinion leaders of themselves. They are literally using Twitter as an individual media.
With tones of information and opinions given by existing media and influential individuals, the most important thing for people is selecting the truth and organizing own thought among those. The strength of Twitter is to be a scope for sharing various opinions. However, following influential Twitters does not necessarily mean sharing various opinions. Some people just follow influential Twitters and do not take part in any activities like commenting, replying, or re-tweeting. All they do is to put others’ opinion on their timeline and read it. They do not really “express” their own opinions. A user can comment on an idea first without having to wait for someone else to mentions beforehand. Then some tweet buddies get to disagree or agree with it, making Twitter a place of discussions. This whole process will help to organize one’s own opinions, which is the true meaning of “sharing” opinions with others. Twitter can make someone not famous influential. Whether someone wants to be influential or not, it is necessary to organize and express what he wants to say. Becoming an opinion leader, make people follow you only with your mentioning.
With Twitter’s feature of being more open and public, people can use it as a scope of communication. Unlike other SNSs which have limited range of communication, Twitter makes people related without knowing each other but only the comments. As Twitter expands the range of interactions, it provides any user with opportunities to become an opinion leader. Talk, play, share thoughts, discuss and be an opinion leader. Use it for expressing your own idea and let everyone know what you want.