Twitter, the popular micro-blogging and broadcasting service, recently revealed a new feature it plans to add to business users' toolset. The Twitter Business Center, something that should probably been implemented months ago as companies flooded in to make their own Twitter accounts, will provide businesses with the ability to verify their identity, something limited previously to only celebrities, as well as set "contributors", or people allowed to tweet from the business account. So far, the new tab in the Twitter settings page has only been released to a small set of business users for testing, but we hope to see a larger-scale launch in the near future. However, there is something more important with the Twitter Business Center that is being provided to Twitter users. This feature, something that hopefully all social networks will try to replicate, is an artificial entity.
In the American corporate system, a corporation is recognized by the government as its own being, almost as if a few men in suits gave birth to a revenue-generating baby. By recognizing a corporation as its own entity, separate from that of its stockholders, not only is the government able to double-tax the company (no surprise there), but the business is able to take on a life of its own beyond the limits of any one given individual. It is no coincidence that corporation status is reserved for companies that need it and can afford it; becoming a corporation is only necessary if your company has become limited in terms finances or information in its current pool of resources. In social media specifically, though, recognizing a business, even if it's not a corporation, as a separate entity is important in establishing a brand and getting customers to recognize the company by the company itself, rather than its owners.
That's where Twitter jumps in. If artificial entities are specifically employed as an advantageous promotion strategy in the real world, it makes complete sense to adopt this method in the online world. When you give a company its own Twitter account, its followers expect tweets concerning the business, rather than just any old personal tweet that the owners would broadcast on their own Twitter accounts. For example, @parent5446 (my personal Twitter account) tweets all of my shared items, thoughts, micro-blog posts, and so on, while @layersoftech (the blog's Twitter account) solely publishes posts from this blog, along with any other important information about TechLayers. And just take a look at Facebook: Pages were originally introduced to be separate entities representing companies or famous artists. In fact, though the concept is often abused on Facebook, Pages are considered their own profile on Twitter, with their own wall posts, photo albums, and everything. Dare I say it, Facebook already has a near perfect example of artificial entities on a social network. Twitter is following in suit with its Twitter Business Center, and I encourage further innovation.
For those who remember my post on social abstraction, the use of artificial entities actually contributes to a proper social network, as it abstracts companies by compounding its owners and contributors under one manipulatable name. An interesting problem concerning this appears in Google Buzz. When you post to Buzz, chances are many people will share your post. However, each share becomes its own post under the person's name, with a separate comment list and separate likes. What Google should have done is employed artificial entities, allowed blogs and companies to tweet posts under their own name (not just the author streaming their posts through Buzz), and then implement a re-buzz system where users can simply propagate that one single post with one separate list of comments. (One may ask about comment privacy, which would be an issue in this situation, but that can be fixed by using Google Wave's solution to the problem, where private replies, or in this case, private comments, can be attached to the message as a whole.)
Artificial entities are vital in organizing a proper business promotion strategy on a social networking service, and any site without them will ultimately fail as an advertising platform for companies. Luckily, Twitter and Facebook seem to recognize this need and have fulfilled it appropriately. However, there always exists room for improvement, and I hope to see more services follow suit with Twitter as online and mobile advertising becomes more and more of its own industry.