How Do I Use Twitter?

It’s no secret that twitters growth has become exceptional. It had 1,382% year-over-year growth in February 2009, read that statistic again, it grew 1,382% in one year. We can break those stats down further, in January 2009 alone they increased their traffic by 2 million and those numbers don’t look set to slow down any time soon. The stats are simply staggering.

twitter traffic growth chart image

That neck-breaking pace has got industry analysts asking questions of twitters business model – namely the fact they don’t have one. It’s a question we’re certainly going to wrestle with ourselves so stay tuned. For now we’re going to move away from the question of how to get revenue and look at how twitter can be used.

How to actually use twitter

This is something that’s often glossed over, often leaving new Twits asking just “How Do I Use Twitter?“. One of the best features of twitter is how open it is for use with third party applications and websites; strangely, logging in at twitter.com isn’t the best way of using it. You’re going to need to get a twitter app that best suits your needs so here’s our favourite list of applications:

twitterfox screenshot

Twitterfox – It’s an addon for firefox that sits in the bottom right of your browser, it will update as often as you tell it to. You can turn notifications on or off and tweet straight from your browser without going to twitter.com. Also supports quickly switching between multiple accounts. A good solution for personal use.

tweetdeck screenshot

Tweetdeck – A free standalone application for managing your tweets. Organise your contacts into column groups so they’re easier to keep up with. You can search twitter, follow people, retweet, shorten urls, and do much more. This is a good solution if you have plenty of followers and follow too many people to keep up with.

We could go on for weeks about potential twitter applications you might like but you’d get bored and run away. If you want an exhaustive collection of applications, check here.

Twitter as a waste of time?

Many twitter naysayers dismiss the service as a waste of time – you can argue that people waste time on email, on phones, or with txt messages, tweeting is just another way to stay in touch. People debated the use of text messaging when it first arrived but it’s clear that texting now holds value as a communication tool. To put it as problogger said “Twitter is a waste of time…. unless you use it in a way that isn’t.”

Twitter as research

twitter-real-time-search-interface


Stop viewing twitter solely as a micro-blogging “I’m going to the shops” service, it is much more. If you haven’t experimented with tools like tweetfall.com and search.twitter.com then you’re not getting all that you can out of search. Twitter has a real time search capability, some people argue twitter search could eventually pose a threat to google, others have simply plugged a gap in the two services. It means you can search through what people are tweeting about this very second, give that notion some thought.

However the situation pans out, real time twitter search is an interesting proposition. Say you are a florist, you could search twitter for people talking about flowers based on a location you decide or within a certain number of miles from a postcode. You can then follow those people and hope they like you enough to follow you back. You’ll quickly build up a niche network of people interested in your product.

Here’s an example of what a search like that may produce.

Similarly, you can open up a tab in FF with a search “flowers” and have that search update in real time. You can even get an RSS feed for that search query and read it each morning in your RSS reader. Alternatively you could use tweetfall to search for more than one term at once and have that search update itself in real time. If you’ve not thought up a gazillion ideas for how you might use that, here’s some inspiration:

  1. Search for people talking about your business and follow them
  2. Search for people interested in your type of product and follow them
  3. Search for the links people are sharing around a specific topic
  4. Search for peoples reactions to a news item and use them in your blog

Here’s a great guide from Anne Smarty on how to get the most out of twitter search.

Twitter as marketing

Big companies are already using twitter to interact with their customers, @jetblue, @homedepot @ComCastCares to name just a few, but it’s a trend that seems to be sweeping the United States faster than it is here in the UK. Infact a recent report suggests that twitter’s potential is being overlooked by UK technology companies, Stephen Beynon, Managing Director, ntl: Telewest Business, said

“There is no longer any excuse for not embracing social networks to share news, recruit employees, and even monitor and respond to users who are praising or criticising them.

“Twitter has been successfully used as a network building tool by businesses such as Mozilla and Sun Microsystems, so there is a template that British businesses can apply to make it work for them.

“The risk in not using Twitter is that these companies will fall behind transatlantic competitors.”

It’s time to get wise on how to use twitter to benefit your business so here’s our guide on how to be a cool business twitterer.

The 5 commandments of twitter:

  1. Listen. The days of one way communication are over. Your followers will unfollow you if you relentlessly post promotional material. This is not television.
  2. Engage. You have to engage with your followers, share their ideas, retweet their links, answer their questions.
  3. Add value and be useful. If you provide your followers with decent information they can’t get elsewhere they’ll tell their friends about you.
  4. Involve your followers in product development, in service development or in any other aspect of your business you can think of
  5. Be open. Don’t be conceitful or deceptive. Someone will suss you out and your credibility will nose dive. Play nice.

Some more tips

  1. Use wefollow to find people in your industry to follow, it will make it easier for new people to find you and you’ll be up to date with people in your industry.
  2. Get yourself registered with wefollow
  3. Ask your followers questions.
  4. Follow your followers.
  5. Don’t panic over answering every single tweet directed at you.
  6. Follow @phillyharper @fluidcreativity @matt_davies @_chappers_ @eddieizzard

Register your twitter account with wefollow.com, they will soon be the yellowpages of twitter and get involved in retweeting. Twitter takes a little bit of time to get into, but trust us when we say that it will soon be a vital tool in every businesses arsenal. The best way to learn is to get an account, search for friends and family, then follow some of the most influential people to get you started.

People to follow

@mashable – Social Media news service, by far the most influential blog in social media.

@stephenfry – He’s Stephen Fry.

@currentUK – decent news from a user generated site

@fluidcreativity – That’s us!
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  • Written by on 1st April 2009 at 17:18
  • “Fluid Creativity is an award-winning, multi-service digital agency based in Manchester.”
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