Editor's comment: The end of the beginning
A view from Gareth Jones

Editor's comment: The end of the beginning

If ever more proof were needed that social media is now part of the fabric of British culture, then here it is: Winston Churchill has started tweeting.

It's hard to imagine our 'Greatest Briton' clutching a mobile phone instead of his trademark cigar, but the wartime leader's estate has launched an iPhone app, as well as a Facebook and Twitter profile to bring the 'wit and wisdom' of the former prime minister to a wider audience.

Fans can sign up at twitter.com/wchurchill2010 to receive quotes from the great man relating to news and current affairs. Recent tweets include 'What a slender thread the greatest of things can hang by #LondonFashionWeek' and 'The best evidence of the fairness of any settlement is the fact that it fully satisfies neither party #LibDemConference'.

While on the surface this may seem absurd, it provides yet another example of the extent to which Twitter is now regarded as a mainstream media platform. It's no coincidence that the microblog has waited to become so ubiquitous to roll out a relaunch aimed at making it as relevant to UK advertisers as it now is to consumers.

As we explain on page four, Twitter is expanding beyond its 140 characters of text to provide users with immediate access to multimedia content. The idea is to encourage users to spend longer on the site so more brands will pay to target them.

Twitter hopes the relaunch will allow it to boost its fledgling commercial strategy by competing more effectively with rival social networks. For advertisers, the ability to offer photo and video content makes the site a compelling addition to the media plan - suddenly, it is about more than reputation management or customer service, and takes on a new life as a display platform alongside Facebook and YouTube. As Churchill said: 'Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.'