Utah making gains in the Twittersphere

Published: Saturday, Aug. 25 2012 10:24 p.m. MDT

Utah has more people per capita with household access to the Internet than almost any other state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and it is rapidly gaining ground in another form of digital expression: Twitter.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has more people per capita with household access to the Internet than almost any other state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and it is rapidly gaining ground in another form of digital expression: Twitter.

Twitter is often referred to as the not-quite-Facebook social media website that only allows 140 characters per post. In reality it is an information network that connects people to the latest stories, new ideas, news and anything anybody finds interesting. It is as easy as finding someone or something that is interesting and following those tweets.

According to the Twitter Press, Team Twitter has more than 140 million active users worldwide with more than 400 million tweets sent each day. And Utah has come a long way when it comes to people on Twitter.

In 2010, www.dcigroupdigital.com ranked Utah the worst in the nation for percent of population on Twitter. Of 2.7 million people living in the state, fewer than 1 percent, a mere 0.35 percent of the population, used the social media website.

The same year HubSpot put Utahns on Twitter at 3.3 percent above the national average.

By 2011, however, Hubspot ranked Utah as the state that gained the most Twitter users per capita, and overall the state was 23 percent above the national average. And Tweet.Grader.com put Salt Lake City in its list of top 100 cities in the world for Twitter use, ranking 85th, just behind Leeds and ahead of Bristol, both in England.

Utah may not have as many people on Twitter as California or New York, but with the number of homes with Internet access passing 85 percent, Utah has the means to get there.

"Utah uses Twitter as a viable news source, to communicate ideas and build relationships," Natalie Wardel, social media director for KSL TV and Radio, said.

Wardel said KSL considers any social media platform a viable way of distributing news.

"Any time there's a breaking news story in Utah, national or local, people look to Twitter for information," Wardel said. "We saw that during the wildfires. There was a hashtag for every wildfire, it was a very organized approach."

A hashtag, or the number symbol (#), is used on Twitter to categorize tweets by keywords or categories, making them easier to find in a search.

Alex Lawrence, a Utah entrepreneur who has started and sold a number of companies, is also the Utahn with the most Twitter followers, according to Twitaholic.com, a website dedicated to tracking the top Twitter users around the globe.

Lawrence said being successful on Twitter takes consistent posting, relevancy to your interests and expertise and being proactive by not hesitating to join conversations with others.

"You'll find articles, photos and other things online that you think are really interesting and fun, or that relate to what you are doing and what you like," Lawrence said. "If you are sharing that type of stuff there will be other people over time who will like those things as well. That's the best way to grow a follower base — be yourself, share good stuff and do it regularly and consistently."

Lawrence said when someone first starts using Twitter he can feel he is talking to himself, "and the reason it feels that way is because you are talking to yourself," he said. But if you consistently tweet and stick with it you will get followers and will be successful on Twitter.

Lawrence, with just more than 100,000 Twitter followers, is only 28.5 million followers behind Lady Gaga, the most followed person in the world. He said people aren't going to get more than a million followers unless they are famous, but there are at least a few thousand people interested in whatever people want to tweet about.

Email: jfinley@desnews.com

Twitter: FinleyJY

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