The use of Twitter seems to have taken off enormously over the past few months as people are realising how the tool can be used not only for messaging, but also for marketing and self-promotion. It's interesting to see all the celebrities that are now 'tweeting'.  Some of them are obviously just using it for promotion, whereas some of them seem to be genuinely using it to communicate with friends.  It makes you wonder whether those in the latter category realise that their tweets can be seen by the whole world, such as:

Richard Madeley (@Richard Madeley) sending a tweet to Jonathon Ross (@Wossy) saying 'Fine show but Jude thought she saw some VPL. I’m sending you my favourite showbiz thong, recently worn in but clean. Hope it helps.'; and

Deborah Meaden (@DeborahMeaden) sending this to Duncan Bannatyne (@DuncanBannatyne), her fellow Dragon from Dragon's Den - 'Afternoon Duncan, can you thank Joanne for that lovely gift. Thank her for the invite, we’d love to come. See you @3.30pm'.

Many other British celebs have recently started tweeting, including:

As well as the celebs, the politicians have been quick to hop on the bandwagon and start using it for announcements, such as 10 Downing Street (@DowningStreet), Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon), Governer Schwarzenegger (@Schwarzenegger), our own PM (@KevinRuddPM), and of course Barack Obama (@BarackObama) who used social media so effectively during his presidential campaign.

You can tell a lot by the language and grammer that twitterers use.  For instance you can tell that Andy Murray (@andy_murray) is clearly of the texting age when you read his tweets, such as:

'Hit for cupl hours at kooyong 2day. Hot again. Nite match 2mrw. 2nd on rod laver', which for all you oldies translates as 'Had a couple of hours of tennis practice at Kooyong today.  It was hot again.  I have a night match tomorrow.  I will be second on the Rod Laver court'.

Twitter was founded as a micro-blogging service in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey (@Jack), Biz Stone (@Biz), and Evan Williams (@ev), which makes sense when you know that Evan Williams was also the founder of Blogger, which he sold to Google in 2003.  I remember at the time many commentators dismissing it as a fad and pointless, wondering how useful it could be when your posts are restricted to just 140 characters.

I wonder if they're still saying the same now?

This week Hitwise released figures showing the amazing growth of Twitter within the UK, which has increased ten-fold within the past 12 months.  Twitter’s penetration per head is even deeper in the UK than in the US. It ranked as the 291st most visited website in the UK, while in the USA it ranked 350th. It’s popular amongst the young, but the fastest growing age group of users is 35-44 year olds, who now account for 17.3% of UK visitors.

Twitter UK traffic growth 2008-2009

I'm not sure what the penetration is here in Australia but it certainly seems to be taking off.

I've been using Twitter for about 15 months now.  I mainly started using it out of curiousity and as a way of keeping my facebook status updated without having to log in to facebook each time.  The beauty of twitter being that you can send 'tweets' via text message.  Now of course there's also a plethora of applications that you can use to twitter from PC's, Macs and mobile phones.  I use Twitterrific on my iPhone so I no longer have to send text messages.  It's all very easy to link up.  When I publish this blog post my twitter account automatically updates my tweet feed to say I have a new blog post, which then in turn updates my facebook status.

Social media in general is changing the way we all communicate and connect with each other.  Even the Pope has launched a Vatican channel on YouTube.  With the use of social media now ubiquitous amongst teenagers, I strongly believe schools should consider teaching kids about internet safety and etiquette, if they're not already.  Many people struggle to realise the social effects and privacy implications that this new technology has.  Just this week a 41-year old UK man was found guilty of stabbing his wife to death after she changed her Facebook status to 'single'.

You can follow my not so interesting twitter feed here.