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Twitter has over 500 million users worldwide and has shaped many aspects of our social and professional lives (Holt, 2013). This real-time information network connects people to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news and lets users post updates to a potentially boundless audience. It can be used for private and mundane updates, but also to communicate information about disasters and social movements. As Murthy (2013: 152) puts it:
At 140 characters at a time, tweeters support a complex update culture which, in many ways, represents a thriving – albeit disjointed – group capable of both the banal and profound… For better or for worse, one thing is clear: Twitter has shaped modern social communication.
Twitter’s update culture is powered by many complex and highly intermeshed networks, which reveal a highly efficient awareness system. Users are well aware of the potential reach and audience of their tweets. People use different strategies to navigate audiences on Twitter and they use different techniques to target different audiences, conceal subjects, and maintain authenticity.
South Africa is the biggest tweeting country in Africa with just over 5 million users. It has a very unique culture, history and spirit. This study aims to find out more about how South Africans make decisions about what they tweet and how aware they are of their followers.
In order to gain some insight into this, a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research methods were employed in the form of surveys and in-depth interviews. The results proved to be very enlightening and are represented in the form of 10 findings.