Microblogging is a broadcast medium in the form of blogging. A microblog differs from a traditional blog in that its content is typically smaller in both actual and aggregate file size. Microblogs "allow users to exchange small elements of content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links".[1]

As with traditional blogging, microbloggers post about topics ranging from the simple, such as "what I'm doing right now," to the thematic, such as "sports cars." Commercial microblogs also exist, to promote websites, services and/or products, and to promote collaboration within an organization.

Some microblogging services offer features such as privacy settings, which allow users to control who can read their microblogs, or alternative ways of publishing entries besides the web-based interface. These may include text messaging, instant messaging, E-mail, or digital audio.


The first microblogs were known as tumblelogs. The term was coined by why the lucky stiff in a blog post on April 12, 2005, while describing Christian Neukirchen's Anarchaia.[2]

Blogging has mutated into simpler forms (specifically, link- and mob- and aud- and vid- variant), but I don’t think I’ve seen a blog like Chris Neukirchen’s Anarchaia, which fudges together a bunch of disparate forms of citation (links, quotes, flickrings) into a very long and narrow and distracted tumblelog.

Jason Kottke described tumblelogs on October 19, 2005:[3]

A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere. Robot Wisdom and Bifurcated Rivets are two older style weblogs that feel very much like these tumblelogs with minimal commentary, little cross-blog chatter, the barest whiff of a finished published work, almost pure editing...really just a way to quickly publish the "stuff" that you run across every day on the web

However, by 2006 and 2007, the term microblog came into greater usage for such services provided by Tumblr and Twitter. In May 2007, 111 microblogging sites were counted internationally.[4] Among the most notable services are Twitter, Tumblr, whatyadoin.com, Plurk, Emote.in, PingGadget, Beeing, Jaiku and identi.ca. More recently, varieties of services and software with the feature of microblogging have been developed. Plurk has a timeline view which integrates video and picture sharing. Flipter uses microblogging as a platform for people to post topics and gather audience's opinions. Emote.in has a concept of sharing emotions, built over microblogging, with a timeline. PingGadget is a location based microblogging service. Pownce, developed by Digg founder Kevin Rose among others, integrates microblogging with file sharing and event invitations. Pownce was merged into SixApart in 2008.[5]

Other leading social networking websites Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, JudgIt, and XING, also have their own microblogging feature, better known as status updates.

With the growth of microblogging, many users want to maintain a presence in more than one social network. Services such as Lifestream and Profilactic will aggregate microblogs from multiple social networks into a single list while other services, such as Ping.fm, will send out your microblog to multiple social networks.


Several studies, most notably by Harvard Business School and Sysomos, have tried to analyze the usage behavior of Microblogging services.[6][7] Many of these studies show that for services such as Twitter, there is a small group of active users contributing to most of the activity.[8] Sysomos' Inside Twitter [7] 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,[9] 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.[7]

Microblogging services have also emerged as an important source of real-time news updates for recent crisis situations, such as the Mumbai terror attacks or Iran protests.[10][11] The short nature of updates allow users to post news items quickly, reaching its audience in seconds.

Microblogging services have revolutionized the way information is consumed. It has empowered citizens themselves to act as sensors or sources of data which could lead to important pieces of information. People now share what they observe in their surroundings, information about events, and what their opinions are about certain topics, for example government policies in healthcare. Moreover, these services store various metadata from these posts, such as the location and time of these shared posts. Aggregate analysis [12] of this data includes different dimensions like space, time, theme, sentiment, network structure etc., and gives us an exciting opportunity to understand social perceptions of the people about certain events of interest, for tapping the pulse of the populace, or a platform for situational awareness and, as correctly pointed out above- a perfect medium of communication during crisis management. Such analysis can help us answer key questions that could have been asked during recent events for improving situational awareness: During the Mumbai terror attacks, what were the main topics (key phrases) that were discussed in the tweets originating from Mumbai during each of the three days of carnage? During the Haiti earthquake, or recent Pakistan floods, what were the primary immediate requirements in rescue situations, where were the possible locations for supplies that matched requirements, and many more queries like these.

The findings of a study by Emily Pronin of Princeton University and Harvard University's Daniel Wegner have been cited as a possible explanation for the rapid growth of microblogging. The study suggests a link between short bursts of activity and feelings of elation, power and creativity.[13]

Microblogging for organizational usage

Users and organizations can set up their own microblogging service: free and open source software is available for this purpose.[14] Hosted microblogging platforms are also available for commercial and organizational use.

Microblogging has the potential to become a new, informal communication medium, especially for collaborative work within organizations.[15] Over the last few years communication patterns have shifted primarily from face-to-face to more online communication in email, IM, text messaging, and other tools. However, some argue that email is now a slow and inefficient way to communicate.[16] For instance, time-consuming 'email chains' can develop, whereby two or more people are involved in lengthy communications for simple matters, such as arranging a meeting.[17] The 'one-to-many' broadcasting offered by microblogs is thought to increase productivity by circumventing this.

Another implication of remote collaboration is that there are fewer opportunities for face-to-face informal conversations. However, microblogging has the potential to support informal communication among coworkers. Many individuals like sharing their whereabouts and status updates with microblogging.[citation needed]

Microblogging is therefore expected to improve the social and emotional welfare of the workforce, as well as streamline the information flow within an organization.[15] It can increase opportunities to share information,[18] help realize and utilize expertise within the workforce, and help build and maintain common ground between coworkers. As microblogging use continues to grow every year, it is quickly becoming a core component of Enterprise Social Software.

Issues with microblogging

Some issues with microblogging are privacy, security, and integration.[15]

Privacy is arguably a major issue because users may broadcast sensitive personal information to anyone who views their public feed. Microblog platform providers can also cause privacy issues through altering or presetting users' privacy options in a way users feel compromises their personal information. An example would be Google’s Buzz platform which incited controversy in 2010 by automatically publicizing users’ email contacts as ‘followers’.[19] Google later amended these settings.

Security concerns have been voiced within the business world, since there is potential for sensitive work information to be publicized on microblogging sites such as Twitter.[20][21]

Integration could be the hardest issue to overcome, since it can be argued that corporate culture must change to accommodate microblogging.[citation needed]

Related concepts

Instant messaging systems display status, but generally only one of a few choices, such as: available, off-line, away. Away messages (messages displayed when the user is away) form a kind of microblogging.

In the Finger protocol, the .project and .plan files are sometimes used for status updates similar to microblogging.

See also


  1. ^ Kaplan Andreas M., Haenlein Michael (2011) The early bird catches the news: Nine things you should know about micro-blogging, Business Horizons, 54(2).
  2. ^ http://redhanded.hobix.com/inspect/tumbleloggingAssortedLarvae.html
  3. ^ Tumblelogs (kottke.org)
  4. ^ Article on thws.cn. A Chinese site, but the article is in English. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  5. ^ Pownce website
  6. ^ "New Twitter Research: Men Follow Men and Nobody Tweets". Harvard Business School. 2009-06-01. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  7. ^ a b c "Inside Twitter: An In-depth Look Inside the Twitter World". Sysomos. 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2009-06-23. Cite error: The named reference "sysomos" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  8. ^ "The More Followers You Have, The More You Tweet. Or Is It The Other Way Around?". TechCrunch. 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2010-06-23.
  9. ^ Jin, Liyun (2009-06-21). "Businesses using Twitter, Facebook to market goods". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  10. ^ "First Hand Accounts Of Terrorist Attacks In India On Twitter, Flickr". TechCrunch. 2008-11-26. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  11. ^ "Twitter on Iran: A Go-to Source or Almost Useless?". 2009-06-22. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  12. ^ M. Nagarajan; et al. "'Spatio-Temporal-Thematic Analysis of Citizen-Sensor Data - Challenges and Experiences'". WISE 2009 Conference. ((cite web)): Explicit use of et al. in: |author= (help)
  13. ^ "Could this be a factor in the allure of microblogs?".
  14. ^ "StatusNet - Open Source microblogging service". Retrieved 2010-01-05.
  15. ^ a b c Dejin Zhao & Mary Beth Rosson (May 2009). "'How and why people Twitter: the role that micro-blogging plays in informal communication at work'". ACM GROUP2009 Conference.
  16. ^ Ross Mayfield (October 15, 2008). "'Email hell'". Forbes. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  17. ^ "Delicious Productivity Improvements For This Flavor Partner". Socialtext.com. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  18. ^ Joab Jackson (November 20, 2009). "NASA program proves the benefits of social networking". Government Computer News. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  19. ^ "'Google Buzz redesigned after privacy complaints'". The Telegraph. London. February 15, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  20. ^ Emma Barnett (March 20, 2010). "'Have business networking sites finally come of age?'". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  21. ^ "'A world of connections'". The Economist. Jan 28th, 2010. Retrieved March 25, 2010. ((cite web)): Check date values in: |date= (help)