Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.
If you’re not a total celeb-nut, marketer, news junkie or sports fan, it can be difficult to grasp what Twitter is all about when you first jump on board. It took me long enough to properly get into it, and even now I’d hardly call myself a power-user.
But Twitter newcomers are often at a loss as to what they’re actually meant to do with this social network. I’m often asked, “Who is worth following?”, after explaining that Twitter might not be for everyone.
For those that want to dip their toe in the Twitter-sphere, I’d normally suggest following breaking news streams, sports teams (depending on what they like and who they root for) and comedians – personal favorites include Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle. A mixture of general news, special interest topics and humor can help spark that initial “ah, this is what it’s about.” It’s probably also worth throwing the likes of Reddit and The Retronaut into the mix too.
However, there are Twitter accounts that might not immediately spring to mind. Ones that I’ll maybe suggest a few weeks later, accompanied by an exclamation of “Oh yeah, you know how you were asking…?”
For those moments, we’ve compiled a selection of some of the funny, genius and brilliantly bonkers Twitter accounts out there. These may not all be to everyone’s taste, but they’ll hopefully give you a flavor of what’s beyond the Biebers, Britneys and BBCs out there. And they may even spark some ideas for your own accounts…
Just a short note too – there are countless parody accounts out there that imitate other people or companies, but we’ve tried to steer clear of these (for the most part) as there are so many. And frankly, a lot of them suck.
So without further ado, here’s 10 brilliant or bonkers Twitter accounts you should take a look at…
1. I think you mean ‘Sneak Peek’
“I alert twitter users that they typed sneak peak when they meant sneak peek. I live a sad life.”
This is perhaps my favorite Twitter account at the moment – it’s so ridiculously simple and cheeky. And the beauty is, it’s all automated.
@StealthMountain mines Twitter for mentions of ‘sneak peak’, and based on the assumption that 99.99% of these mentions will be typos that actually mean ‘sneak peek’, it informs them of their little keyboard calamity.
@matthijs070 I think you mean “sneak peek”
— Stealth Mountain (@StealthMountain) July 25, 2012
But the cherry on the cake with this Twitter account is the favorites section, which features irate responses from those who were taken to task for their lexical lapses.
@stealthmountain shut up!!
— matthijs(L) (@matthijs070) July 25, 2012
The funny thing with these responses is that they mostly don’t realize that StealthMountain is a tweet-bot. That said, it does seem as though the favorited tweets are manually saved given that they only contain a selection of the best responses.
2. World War 2 tweets
“Livetweeting the 2nd World War, as it happens on this date & time in 1940, & for 6 years to come.”
The Next Web was first on the scene last year when this little gem came to the fore. @RealTimeWWII is the handiwork of an ex-History student, who’s using Twitter to ‘live tweet’ World War 2 as though it’s breaking news.
Kicking off in August last year, 24-year old Alwyn Collinson plans to bring key events from the war to the Twitter generation for its entirety. A mammoth undertaking, you’ll no doubt agree.
Galland has already flabbergasted Göring; asked what he’d need to beat the British. Reply: “Spitfires for my squadron” twitter.com/RealTimeWWII/s…
— WW2 Tweets from 1940 (@RealTimeWWII) August 21, 2012
“I’ve had a couple of history teachers contact me to say they’ve recommended it to their students,” said Alwyn. “Most of whom, of course, use Twitter or at least Facebook. To teenagers, the Second World War might as well have happened a thousand years ago. To show it in real-time, and as real people saw it, hopefully that will give a sense of living history, as opposed to impenetrable arrows on maps and obsolete politics.”
3. When’s my bus?
“Ask me when your next London bus is…my info’s real-time & works for any route anywhere in London.”
While this Twitter account is London-centric and thus will be of limited global appeal, it helps to demonstrate some of the innovative ways Twitter can be used.
As we wrote in our report earlier this year, @WhensMyBus is an automated Twitter-bot that tells you what time London buses are arriving at close to you, tapping Transport for London’s (TfL) real-time data and your current location.
If you have GPS-enabled phone (who doesn’t these days?), you’ll have to include your current location in your Tweet – to do so, Twitter has produced a set of guidelines for iOS and Android devices. Then, all you need to do is tweet your desired bus number.
You’ll receive a tweet back almost instantly telling you the latest bus times for up to two of the next scheduled buses from each of the stops nearest to you. An example of which looks roughly like this:
@parveeeeeen_ H32 Southall Station to Hounslow Bus St 2048 2101; Southall Station to Southall T H 2045 2052 2103
— When’s My Bus? (@whensmybus) August 21, 2012
There are other similar initiatives out there that put Twitter to use, such as TrackThis, which lets you track packages sent by UPS, Fedex, USPS, DHL and other carriers.
4. Mission to Mars
“NASA’s latest mission to Mars. I arrived at the Red Planet, Aug. 5, 2012 PDT (Aug.6 UTC).”
NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on Mars some three weeks ago now, and whilst live video and panoramic pictures offer a tantalizing taste of life on the Red Planet, what better way to keep up with the Mars mission than through the Curiosity Rover’s own Twitter account?
@MarsCuriosity tweets several times a day, and it often has something pretty cool to say or show you:
There are 70 lbs of science at the end of my arm! Includes a drill, scoop, brush camera & X-ray tool [pic]twitpic.com/am8tbt
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) August 21, 2012
5. Y U No follow me!
“Y U NO CLICK FOLLOW BUTTON?”
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this one, but by and large it cracks me up.
@Y_U_NOOO is the Twitter handle of the anonymous Mr. Y U No man, represented by nothing more than a rage-face and a series of humorous YELLED observations based around the question: ‘Y U No?’
Some gems include “FASTFOOD, Y U NO MAKE ME FASTER?”, “MATH, Y U NO SOLVE YOUR OWN PROBLEMS?”, “LADY GAGA, Y U NO DRESS NORMAL FOR HALLOWEEN?” and “PIGS Y U NO FLY? AWESOME SHIT WILL HAPPEN WHEN U FLY.”
EGG PROFILE PICS, Y U NO KNOW THAT NO ONE TAKES UR TWEETS SERIOUS.
— Y U NO (@Y_U_NOOO) August 22, 2012
There are attempts to monetize this account through selling t-shirts and linking to affiliate sites. It also retweets a heck of a lot of messages from other supposedly funny accounts (I’m not sure whether for money), which can get a little annoying. But still, brilliantly bonkers.
6. Pun and games
“There’s no ‘i’ in ‘Liar’. Adman by day, dragon slaying by Knight.”
Puns…you either love them or hate them. Personally, I’d file puns somewhere near sarcasm in the humor stakes, in that it’s all in the execution. Sarcasm and punnism can sound really dumb in the wrong hands.
With that in mind, @Pundamentalism offers daily word-plays that will either make you angry, or make you stifle a series of guffaws while standing on your own at the bus stop. I love this recent gem, in particular:
My dog’s got no furnace / How does he smelt? / Terribly.
— James Martin (@Pundamentalism) February 22, 2012
To be fair, not all of them are puns, but they’re still funny. Some other choice examples include – “What do we want? / Less pedants! / Actually, it should be ‘fewer pedants’.”, “Hooked the world’s biggest fish last night. I’m still reeling” and “I’ve had it up to here with tweets that rely on visuals.”
@SixthFormPoet is of a similar ilk, and well worth a follow too.
7. Elevator insights
“Things heard in the Goldman Sachs elevators do not stay in the Goldman Sachs elevators.”
Daily insights into life at Goldman Sachs come courtesy of @GSElevator, where staff are invited to email things they overhear in the elevators of the financial powerhouse. Cliches, buzzwords, sexism and everything in between ensues, with gems such as “Do as I say because you can’t do as I do” emanating from the company’s vertical-moving vehicles each week.
#1: Spent last night pouring champagne, feeding her dessert, & telling stories of my trip to Bhutan. I’ve never been to Bhutan.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) August 22, 2012
Granted, a lot of them will likely be invented for humor’s sake, but alas a fair chunk of them will likely be genuine. And at any rate, it’s a funny idea.
8. Stats, but not as you know ’em
“Strengths: Stats Weaknesses: Checking stuff.”
If you love getting your teeth stuck into a bunch of research-based statistical nuggets, then this Twitter account likely won’t be for you. However, if you love fabricated facts then @MadeUpStats could be right up your street.
The UK is the only country in Europe where rail travel costs more per minute than premium sex chat-lines.
— made-up stats (@madeupstats) August 21, 2012
While the stats are 100% made up, they are often enshrined in observational humor, helping to liven up an often-bland Twitter timeline.
For example, “Today, the average adult turns their smartphone off for a total of 18 minutes per year”, “In the last month, the Olympics ticketing website accounted for 55% of total time spent on the Internet,” and “If the US Christian Right were an actual country, it would own more weapons than Iran and Iraqistan combined” help demonstrate the typical tweet-type.
9. Tweeting clocks
“Established November 2009. Entirely unofficial & apparently imitated everywhere.”
A tweeting clock? Yup, London’s Big Ben (@big_ben_clock) has a very unofficial Twitter account that bongs on the hour every hour.
BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG
— Big Ben (@big_ben_clock) August 22, 2012
At midday, you get twelve bongs, at 1pm you get one bong…and so on. So simple, and so ludicrous. But you gotta love the ridiculousness of it all.
10. Common squirrels and feral pigeons
“Run, run, run…panic.”
Okay, you get two for the price of one here. A common squirrel (@Common_Squirrel), seemingly from Tehran (Iran), tweets every few hours or so. You’ll get actions such as ‘dig dig’, ‘scratch’ and ‘sleep’ described throughout the day.
— common squirrel (@common_squirrel) August 21, 2012
Of a similar ilk is @Feral_Pigeon, which plys its trade in London’s Trafalgar Square. Unlike the squirrel, Feral Pigeon bobs, coos and panics its way throughout the day.
panic! fly and land three feet away
— feral_pigeon (@feral_pigeon) June 22, 2012
That said, it doesn’t seem to have tweeted in more than a month now, so here’s hoping it hasn’t been flattened under the wheels of a bus.
If after all this you’re still thinking ‘Meh, Twitter’, then you might want to check out 10 websites that will make you say ‘huh?‘, instead. There’s some equally bonkers shenanigans going on across the Web, in case you hadn’t realized.
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