What’s Twitter For?

15 01 2009

Andy Murray, Stephen Fry, Britney, Jonathan Ross and this week Phillip Schofield have all joined Twitter helping launch the latest ‘next big thing’ onto TV screens and the pages of the national press. 

This combined with a general surge in interest in social networks has led to a flood of Twitter newbies and Twitter wannabes asking just what Twitter is for.  Like much that’s new it can be used for a lot of things and we are still finding out just how useful it might be but here are a few things Twitter is definitely for:


1. Your Personal News Channel

Major media organisations have Twitter streams that are often faster with news than their other channels.  Follow a selection of them and you have an instant personalised news-wire (my selection includes the BBC, The Guardian and the PR Week and the New York Times) in the last 24 hours I’ve heard first on Twitter about Steve Jobs stepping down from Apple, the Manchester United result and staff cuts at Google.   

2. Celebrity Gossip

Get the scoop straight from the horses mouth.  In case you wanted to know Stephen Fry is currently having a kip in a hotel room that has a “perfect view” of the Sydney Opera House.

3. Business Networking

Use it properly and it works – trust me.  Twitter involves conversation and conversation builds relationships.  There’s nothing new in this but Twitter opens the door to conversations with people that you might not find a other way of making contact with.

4. Social Networking

Twitter isn’t a social network in the way that Facebook is, but people do use it to stay in touch with friends and update them on what they are up to.  It can be like Facebook status …on speed.

5. Social Search

Google is the search engine of choice but what if you want a mixture of opinion as well as fact or you want to get a real human involved ask a question on Twitter?  I asked my followers what Twitter was for and got some very interesting replies  

Stubers Still figuring it out – currently 50% newsfeeds, 30% industry stuff or pushing blog, 20% mates; katehughes listening gossiping watching laughing peeking blogging reading writing linking posting in the wonder of 140 characters!;  xxnapoleonsolo What are any of us for?; alisongow @robbrown For me – conversation, exchanging news/information, finding interesting people, being part of a community; alfox @robbrown Twitter – it’s good for stalking. It’s an information exchange? It’s eavesdropping; Ear_I_Am @robbrown Tweeting, of course. 

6. Narrowcasting 

It’s fine to use twitter to tell people things, but it’s better to be open.  If you are promoting a client say so.  Linking to a site or blog will be self explanatory and twitter can be a good way to drive traffic to a site.  Importantly your followers have chosen to follow you so many will be genuinely interested in what you say.  Use it with care because people can stop following you as easily as they started.  Nevertheless there are some very influential voices out there. 

7. Grandstanding

Mouth off now and again.  Get it off your chest.   Most of us do.

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