A social messaging phenomenon changes the way editors operate.
Twitter, the social messaging phenomenon that allows users to text their friends, 140 characters at a time, has been around since 2006.
Yet, perhaps ironically, many magazine publishers became aware of Twitter last November, when a then-anonymous public relations flack launched â€śThe Media is Dying,â€ť a Twitter feed chronicling the seemingly endless waves of media industry layoffs, cutbacks and closingsâ€”both real and rumoredâ€”in real-time.
Some magazine editors have adopted Twitter as part of their daily editorial routines, changing the way they operate. BusinessWeek.com editor-in-chief John Byrne, for instance, uses his Twitter feed to update his 11,000 or so followers about what the biggest stories are, whatâ€™s discussed in news meetings, what he plans to lead the next day with and even who heâ€™s eating lunch with and what theyâ€™re talking about. (Some sample â€śtweetsâ€ť from Byrne: â€śNews meeting: After a long discussion about AIGâ€™s exec bonuses, weâ€™re leading in the a.m. with What Does AIGâ€™s Future Hold?â€ť; â€śMost-read & discussed story at BW.com: Madoff: Lessons from a Disaster.â€ť)
Current industry estimates put the number of registered users around 8 million in the U.S.â€”a number that is growing roughly 30 percent per month.
Itâ€™s small compared to Facebookâ€™s 175 million users, but the buzz surrounding Twitter is palpable. Last month, Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo (who counts 61,266 Twitter followers) offered Twitter $250,000 for a permanent spot in Twitterâ€™s â€śTop 20 Suggestedâ€ť list for two years. Calacanis told TechCrunch: â€śI believe that in five years the top 20 recommend slots will be worth $1 million a year eachâ€”Super Bowl commercial level in fact ... this is dead serious.â€ť
Unabashed enthusiasm aside, it remains to be seen, however, if Twitter can evolve into a viable, game-changing businessâ€”or, more importantly, if magazine publishers can drive business with it.
VITAL STATS: An estimated 8 million registered users in the U.S., 10 million overall, and growing at about 33 percent month over month.