What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social networking site where people gather to communicate in 140 characters or less.  Below is a screenshot of the main question twitter poses – “What are you doing?” and the 140 character box that you use to answer that question.

What are you doing?

Occasionally, when people first hear about twitter and the question “What are you doing?”,  they reply, “I don’t want people to know what I’m doing all the time.”  You don’t have to answer that question verbatim (in exact words).   You can enter anything you want.  Well, almost.

A Better Question

Facebook asks the question, “What’s on your mind?”  This reflects a more open and engaging question that allows people to provide a broader range of responses.  One might think a message like “Say something” would be more appropriate, but posing a question has always been a more compelling and effective way to engage people.

Conversations

Definition: Tweets.  Tweets are the message you provide to the question “What are you doing?”.

Conversations are part of twitter.  You can engage in a conversation between you and another person or multiple people.  However, since twitter lists all messages in a streaming list down a web page (see below), your conversations can get lost in the stream.

There are a few solutions to help you track your conversations and we’ll talk about them in future articles.

Twitter Stream

Business

Twitter can be used to create business relationships.  Many companies on the web “listen in” on the conversations on twitter to find out what people are saying about their company or products.  This allows them to be proactive in their customer support efforts by responding to complaints, offereing help, and other online,  reputation management efforts.

Another way people are using twitter is to find work.  If you’re a Freelancer or someone who’s out of work, you can establish new relationships on twitter that could result in a new job or other work-related opportunities.

Contests

Twitter can be used for contests.  A person who has a blog or a company who’s trying to advertise a campaign might hold a contest with various prizes to promote their blog, website or campaign.

Marketing

If you’re selling something, twitter can be a great way to setup an automatic marketing machine.  There are quite a few ways to setup an automatic marketing system using the various free twitter tools offered on the web.  I’ll talk about some of them here on my blog so make sure you subscribe.

Search

Twitter has become an incredible search machine.  By using search.twitter.com you can listen in on what people are talking about right now.  The advanced search screen allows you to provide specific search criteria that produce very targetted, real-time search results.

Stories

People collaborate on stories created 140 characters at a time.  A story can be 140 characters or less, or span multiple tweets with multips people contributing to the story.

A competition to write the most compelling story in exactly 140 characters was held last year by a popular blogger and the turn out was enormous, which led to writers and readers wanting more.

Hopefully you can see how twitter is quite a few things to different people.  You decide how you want to use it and what it is to you.

If you’re already on twitter, please provide your twitter id in the comments below for other to follow.  Also, feel free to let everyone know in the comments how you’re using twitter.

These are just a few ways that you can use twitter.  Please subscribe to DailyTwiTips to learn more about twitter.

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