How would I use Twitter? I was asked this over the weekend and totally stumbled over how to answer it. It’s not that I don’t know, but it’s complicated. I can explain why businesses may use it, but individuals? Oddly enough, I have never answered it from that POV. So, now that I have organized my thoughts, let me take a stab at answering that question by explaining how I use it:
Search In my opinion, this is the number one reason to use Twitter. Let’s be honest, in this day in age, no one likes waiting. We want results and we want them now. We don’t want to wait for search engines to index web content. We want to search and get the most relevant results ASAP. So, why not Google? The next time you go to search for something on Google, try searching it on Twitter first. The advantage? The real time results are shown in 140 characters or less. The short length of the results makes consumption of information easier. Who wants to read through paragraphs of copy? Most of us skim anyway. Twitter is perfect. Like I said, we are impatient and we want the bottom line. Try it now. You don’t even have to be a Twitter user.
News Last month, there was a road blocked off in front of a shopping center near my office. There were tons of firetrucks, ambulances, etc. Lots of commotion. Twitter search? Yes, please. I searched “Western Avenue Fire Boston” There were numerous tweets from bystanders who had tweeted out the activity, but I found what I was looking for via the Boston Fire Department Twitter account. They had just tweeted that it was a gas leak and included a photo. Google had no results, because nothing had been written, published, and indexed. Compared to traditional news providers, Twitter provided a unsensored version of what had happened opposed to content that some editor had determined to be newsworthy. With Twitter, you can get extremely local news, like my example, or get multiple opinions on one story. Search for product, movie, or travel reviews.
Another example can be found in today’s headlines. Take the Todd Akin “Legitimate Rape” controversy. You can read all about it from traditional forms of media, or jump on Twitter to perform a search and get even more commentary on the matter.
These days almost every celebrity, athlete, politician, personality etc. has a Twitter account. Previously, if these people wanted to reach the masses they had to issue a press release or do personal interviews. With Twitter, they control the output. Have you noticed that those Access Hollywood type shows love citing Twitter as their source? ”So and so said this on Twitter…” “It was reported on Twitter that …” “A link to her sex tape was released on Twitter…” As followers, we can stay in the know. It’s more fun when the personality is authentic (read: actually tweeting for themselves) because it gives us (the masses) insight into the person. Personally, I recommend following @kaynewest, @ochocinco, @ryanseacrest and @KimKardashian because they are super active (and kinda crazy). Don’t judge. (You can also follow your friends on Twitter, but that is less exciting in my opinion. That’s what Facebook is for? Whoops.)
In addition to following people, you can follow brands, movements, events, etc.
Share Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to share what you ate for breakfast everyday to be on Twitter. Yes, some use Twitter as strictly a broadcasting tool, but the majority of us use it to interact and to converse. Conversations are easy. Twitter is just one giant conversation. Jump in.
Interact If Twitter is a conversation, it certainly isn’t one-sided . Example: I am a huge fan of the TV show Big Brother. Whenever it is on, I type the Big Brother hashtag, #BB14, into Twitter. Since I know about 2 people that actually watch this show, I use Twitter to monitor the discussion about what is going on since I have noone else to talk about it with. Sad, I know. Actually, it’s not that sad since there is an abundance of people talking about it on Twitter. I am not the only one. Phew. Using Twitter during #sharkweek, #americanidol, and #thevoice is fun, too. Try the Olympics and other major sporting events. (Go Giants)
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.
Twitter created a video that highlights some great examples of Twitter and TV. Check it out:
In addition to Twitter during TV, I have used Twitter to contact customer service departments for help. The most recent example is Comcast (@comcastcares). They were super responsive and helpful. I use Twitter to share links and interact with other people and brands who are talking about what I care about.what else? I post photos and search for deals and coupons. I have participated in a Tweet Chats around a topic that interests me.
A Tweet chat is an online discussion using Twitter. Every post is a tweet. Because it’s on Twitter, anyone with a Twitter account can participate, or just listen in to learn more about the topic. You can control how much you get out of Twitter by how much you get in.
Still looking for more ways to use Twitter? Search “Ways to Use Twitter on Twitter” for more.:-) Bap.