1) Chit chat
From personal experience, people will actually have near real time conversations about anything and everything on Twitter. It has the near immediacy that email lacks and yet it has that tempting wait until the other person replies. While we could all use instant messaging or Google Wave, let’s be honest, sometimes we actually like that slight delay in our conversation as it builds the anticipation.
F**k it, we'll do it live!
Our biggest ever edition of TNW Conference is fast approaching! Join 10,000 tech leaders this May in Amsterdam.
It’s number two because it’s such a key aspect of Twitter. Whether it’s mistaken spam (unwanted and irrelevant messaging sent by error), misusing the trending topics, blatant follows and tweets to just get your attention or malicious activities hiding behind shorterned URLs, it’s all in there. Bold as brass. Twitter tries it’s best to remove it, but when you have a mass communications device it is always going to be tempting to misuse it.
You can find, speak to and listen to what your customers are talking about and try to enhance your relationship with them. Automated tweets don’t count. You need to be real, genuine and listen to what people are saying to be able to use it to enhance what you do. At Glasscubes, the company I work for, we use it daily to look at what our customers are saying and to see if we can help anybody who is looking for something. It works and it helps. Just don’t overegg your messaging otherwise it will be detrimental. Stop does really mean stop.
4) Breaking news
You can learn a lot about current affairs via Twitter. The lack of censorship enables Joe Public to become a citizen journalist using a mobile phone, a text message and maybe a photo. The number of Twitter users is so large that there is always going to be one near to or at the scene of any activity, and the mobile phone means they can talk about it. No waiting for editorial, no waiting for approval just cold hard reporting. It also means you can be misled but you’d be amazed. I’ve broken a news story faster than major publications because of Twitter and people tweeting images, videos and what they are seeing. You can imagine what that did for the website I was working on!
5) Keeping abreast
Similarly, people tweet results, key stories and any minute changes in something. Which means you can keep abreast of what people are talking about – whether thats a brand, an event, a death or even a birth. You can find out first and react quickest.
6) Ego trips
Having 100, 1000, 10,000 followers or more makes you feel good. That and getting retweeted by a human who genuinely likes your work. After all, we don’t write just for the fun of it. It’s always a nice boost to the ego to know that you’ve hit the spot with someone. I like helping people, so to know that I’ve helped makes me feel good.
How many blogs now get found because people can use a keyword and get found instantly. It’s something you can’t do in any traditional search engine (although that is changing). However, it may not be long lasting so doing something once is never enough. You have to keep at it and keep being useful, but it can certainly raise the profile of anything or anyone.
8) Tracking brand
Set up a search for any brand in the world. You’ll be the first to know if someone is speaking well or badly about it. At least then you can prepare, react and counter if need be. But the main thing is you stay aware.
9) Marketing campaigns
Several companies have run marketing campaigns, often with quite different responses. Nikon have just started a campaign using it while a Starbucks campaign got hijacked really quite easily. You’ve got to be careful as it can be as damaging as it is productive… unless you take the age old mantra – there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Some people just tweet for fun. Whether it’s findout jokes, tweeting 140 character stories or alternative titles – it’s a way to let the creative imagination run wild and see your name in lights. However, it can really have an affect, just consider James Halpern who has just got a TV deal for just tweeting things his dad says.
11) Posting pictures
In the past I’ve tweeted my photos via Twitpic. Why? Well, it lets people see what’s going on in my life. I’ve also seen people’s holidays, competitions and also just random photos. It can be used as part of citizen journalism and also to raise awareness of atrocities without facing censure. I wonder how far people will take it – but Twitter seem to know the dangers, it’s just how far they let things run before it becomes damaging to an individual.
12) Meeting people
Without doubt, Twitter is a way to meet like minded people, have a conversation and maybe meet up. How long before TweetDating takes off? Essentially you build up any relationship in the same way as normal, realise you have something in common and meet up over a coffee. Now that the stigma around internet dating has died down, is there a better platform than Twitter to take advantage?
13) They think they should but they’re not sure why
If I got £1 for everytime someone said to me (or I read on Twitter) “I’m on it, but I don’t know why” I’d be a rich man. Some people convert to find their own niche, others follow trends and some never return. But it’s so open and hopefully as this list shows, it’s free and available to make what they want out of it. The only question remains – when is Twitter going to start making money for itself?
14) As a great talking point
Well… I wrote this article about Twitter didn’t I? And have you noticed that the most popular topic today is Twitter (as well as one of the most read)?
What other ways have you found Twitter users use Twitter?
Read next: It's hard to be a geek sometimes...