Posted on December 30, 2011 by Kevin Getch There are many ways to grow your business. But having the media on your side is a pretty powerful tool that not many have the opportunity to grab hold of… unless you happen to be Twitter. According to researchers at MIT, news media played a big role in Twitter’s growth. The researchers used Google Insights for Search to track weekly news stories from Google News searches. They found spikes in Twitter use had corresponded with news coverage. The study also found that from 2006 to 2009, more traditional forms of social networking played a significant role in Twitter’s initial growth. Conventional wisdom regarding the Internet states that it has “flattened” the world, meaning your geography is no longer a factor. That’s not totally the case, at least in the case of the MIT study. They found that initially, Twitter grew as a result of people who lived in close proximity to each other and with people communicating with similar socioeconomic traits. The study also pointed out the importance of word of mouth in the spread of the social networking site. “Even on the Internet where we may think the world is flat, it’s not,” says Marta Gonzalez, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering systems at MIT, who co-authored a paper on this subject. “The big question for people in industry is ‘How do we find the right person or hub to adopt our new app so that it will go viral?’ But we found that the lone tech-savvy person can’t do it; this also requires word of mouth. The social network needs geographical proximity… In the U.S. anyway, space and similarity matter.” One aspect not mentioned in this study is the unique (and free!) marketing tool at the disposal of Twitter and Facebook: news media and entertainment shows plugging their product by virtue of promoting themselves via the social network on television. What a brilliant marketing tool to have. Seeing TV hosts plug their Twitter accounts over and over must have had a substantive effect on the company’s growth.