Twitter 201: Part 1 – What Is Twitter & What Uses Does It Have?

TwitterRoughly trawling through 10 webpages and roughly 470 comments later, I’m ready to “graduate” to Twitter201 and give you a good if not definitive guide to Twitter and it’s uses. This will be part 1 of 3, so check back or subscribe to my RSS feed to know when parts 2 and 3 are out.

What Is Twitter?

Twitter is a mashup between instant messaging (IM), email, facebook and even sms. It’s mobile, can be targeted specifically at friends or widely at anyone you choose, is instantaneous, and social.

When you visit Twitter, you’ll be prompted: “What are you doing?” and that’s exactly what Twitter does: let your friends/acquaintances know what you’re doing at any given time. For example, mine currently says “yet another great cup of Hazelnut latte at Borders Bistro”, that lets people know what I’m doing and where I’m at. Let me just say that that’s a bad example of how to use Twitter, and a good example of “noise”. More on that in part 2.

If I haven’t made it clear by now, Twitter’s usage is to help you stay connected with whoever you choose.

More Twitter Usages

Besides connecting people, Twitter also allows you to ask questions to find out more about what the people in your network think or what they’re doing. A really good example is found on ProBlogger where Darren got 30 responses to a question in 10 minutes. (You should really click on the link and check out the screenshots to get an idea of what I’m saying).

Also Twitter can be used very easily as a traffic generating device. Everytime I have a new blogpost, I announce it on Twitter for anyone who’s interested.

Twitter can also be used as a to-do-list. Remember The Milk is a cool site where you can send messages to your Twitter to remember stuff like, well, buying milk. If your phone is internet or wi-fi enabled, this can be even more useful because you can just update your Twitter status to remind yourself to do something later.

Finally, Twitter can be used for friendsourcing. Surfing around Twitter the past few days, I’ve seen quite a few tweets going like “need a ______ on behalf of a friend”, which can be really useful if there’s something specific you need, and a particular audience you want to tap onto.

Before I end, let me say that this list is nowhere near exhaustive and of course there are business uses that I’ve neglected to mention. Given that I don’t own a business, I don’t think I have the necessary expertise to talk about that. Also, this guide is targeted at the average blogger trying to figure out how to use Twitter for the first time, I’ve decided to leave out all the business bits.

Part 2 should be up tomorrow, covering what you need to do to make Twitter useful, as well as how to grow your Twitter network. Meanwhile you may want to check out my previous posts Twitter 101, Twitter 102 and Twitter 103, as well as let me know what’s on your mind with regards to Twitter in the comments below!

PS: If you like what I’m doing, please add me to your Technorati favourites (Add to Technorati Favorites) and/or follow me on Twitter, user: uniquefrequency

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7 Responses to “Twitter 201: Part 1 – What Is Twitter & What Uses Does It Have?”

  1. Lee Says:

    I thing, unfortunately, sometimes people get the wrong idea when think “social.” And so, Twitter gets a bad rap, but for me and my “network” it’s more about advancing our ideas. We are a group of progressive educators who try to get teachers and decision makers to think out of the box. Our circle uses Twitter, for example, to share examples of great teaching practices. We blog about these contantly and share great ideas. It is a non-linear effort to push people out of their comfort zone to teach students IN their comfort zone!

    http://www.macmomma.blogspot.com/

    http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/kolbert/

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