While you may not be able to claim that Iran’s protests can be called a Twitter Revolution, the way news is being spread from Tehran does offer an insight into the online marketing powers of Twitter.
The New York Times wrote that critics disagree with naming these protests a Twitter Revolution because protests throughout Tehran were actually organized in more conventional ways – through word-of-mouth, websites, and text messaging – and not with tweets. But even though Twitter and its tweets may not have been the instigator, this micro blogging site has managed to draw a great deal of global attention to the protests in Iran and keep this attention trained there.
All tweets related to Iran’s protests are tagged with the keyword “#IranRevolution.” When I checked the Twitter feed for this keyword, I read a dozen posts that had been posted within the last 20 seconds. One of them read: “clashes in 7 Tir Sq and Valli Asr Ave:street fires & tear gas;shooting heard-many militia #evileader #iranelection #Mousavi.” By the time I had finished reading this tweet, 137 more tweets had also been published.
This is one of Twitter’s main marketing tools. While it may seem that one tweet will not garner much attention, multiple tweets can start to take on a whole new meaning. A compilation of tweets has built a strong personality and sent a strong message from Iran’s protesters to their Twitter followers and, through the powers of Retweeting, has virally spread this message to the rest of the online community.
Twitter’s second main marketing tool is that there are so many different avenues to post Tweets. You can post a Tweet from a phone, Web browser, or any number of third party web-based and desktop applications. This functionality makes it much harder for Iran’s government to monitor and shut down Twitter than it would for a more conventional social-networking site like Facebook. This portability also gives Tweeters the ability to post on the go. While some mainstream news organizations have found it difficult to get out into the streets of Tehran and verify stories, Tweeters have helped to send out raw first-hand reports from the streets of Tehran, although some did later prove to be false.
Despite these posts, the news streaming from Tehran through Twitter’s applications gives a strong insight into how this site has been used to build a global online marketing campaign for Iran’s protesters.