17 Ways You Can Use Twitter: A Guide for Beginners, Marketers and Business Owners

twitterTwitter is a micro blogging platform which allows you to publish short messages of less than 140 characters through different mediums like IM, cellphones and the web.

It has a social element as well, as it allows users to befriend and monitor each other’s messages or updates. So what you have here is a publishing tool that can be either public and private.

It is similar to an IRC channel although messages are displayed less rapidly. Some have called it a slower version of internet messengers.

Twitter gives you a fragmented experience of opinions, events, news, ideas and feedback largely because its structured to accommodate non-contextual usability: You can easily follow thousands of users and listen in and enter into conversations conducted among multiple users at any point. And this is usually the case.

On the other hand, Twitter can be actively used as a tool to push out messages that capitalize on the attention you’re receiving from other users. Yes, I’m talking about self-promotion and marketing. This involves active user engagement.

Apart from its use as a info resource and publicity tool, Twitter is also a communication platform for individuals and their personal social networks. Leisa Reichelt calls this form of usage, ambient intimacy:

Ambient intimacy is about being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible.

Who cares? Who wants this level of detail? Isn’t this all just annoying noise?…There are a lot of us, though, who find great value in this ongoing noise. It helps us get to know people who would otherwise be just acquaintances.

It makes us feel closer to people we care for but in whose lives we’re not able to participate as closely as we’d like. Knowing these details creates intimacy.


Twitter and Marketing: A General Overview

twitter
Image Credit: wallpaper

There’s been a great deal of articles on how Twitter can be used for marketing purposes and I think most of them can be condensed to the simple aim of tracking and directing attention. Twitter allows you to monitor how influencers think or feel, you can also get into their attention zone via active networking.

For businesses, Twitter is another channel which connects current and potential customers with your product or brand. It allows deeply infiltration into the lifestyles of interested participants, which helps to build brand persistence/loyalty.

In its most obvious form, Twitter can be seen as a traffic generation tool. The placement of links within profiles and conversations can direct visitors to a specific website and is especially powerful if you pitch to early adopters and influencers.

As a lead acquisition tool, it doesn’t always reach the audience you want. Most Twitter users are somewhat web savvy and it is extremely difficult to target a specific subset of the general demographic and determine their level of potential interest.

As there isn’t an option to advertise within Twitter (unlike Facebook), Twitter marketing is a task that involves two-way audience engagement, on the part of the marketer or business owner. In a way, this is a good thing.

The Problem With Twitter

Twitter is not a difficult tool to use so there’s a low barrier of entry; Anyone can pick it up. What really matters is how it impacts your online habits and daily life. For many, Twitter is a distraction, albeit one that is very much welcome.

It saps your attention and pulls your focus away from other tasks. Kathy Sierra goes a step further and talks about the very real fear of being disconnected:

Ironically, services like Twitter are simultaneously leaving some people with a feeling of not being connected, by feeding the fear of not being in the loop. By elevating the importance of being “constantly updated,” it amplifies the feeling of missing something if you’re not checking Twitter (or Twittering) with enough frequency.

The issue here is that effective Twitter usage necessarily involves an investment in time and attention. One needs to be plugged in to a certain extent to reap the benefits that come from using Twitter. Even listening takes an effort.


17 Ways to Use Twitter: My Experiences So Far

twitter
Image Credit: wallpaper

I’ve signed up for a Twitter account a long time ago and used it sporadically because it never really did appeal to me. Last week I decided to give it another chance and installed Snitter, a desktop application for Twitter.

I started using it actively and gradually developed an avid interest. I think Twitter is a manageable process that can be adopted for all types of lifestyles, busy or inactive. You’ll just need to integrate it within your normal workflow. It’s addictive but once you understand how to use it, it’ll be a very effective tool indeed.

Having read a great deal of other articles on Twitter, I decided a do a quick summary of all the ways you can use Twitter for both your professional or personal life. Some of these methods go beyond the use of Twitter as a lifestreaming device:

  1. Personal Branding. Twitter is a social media platform you can use to build your personal brand. It has the primary benefit of developing a casual persona and establishes you as a social personality that is connected and approachable. As Twitter adoption increases, new users will be drawn towards well established Twitter personas.

  2. Get Feedback. Need an alternative perspective on how a website looks or the right course of action to take? Blast out a message asking for advice and you’ll receive replies from other users. This collective intelligence can be used as fodder for articles or projects.

  3. Hire People. Need a good logo designer, marketer or programmer? Send out a message asking for recommendations. This is a very quick and easy way to hire freelancers or even companies based on familiar recommendations.

  4. Direct traffic. Twitter can be used to get traffic to your websites or the sites of friends. If you ask your friends to tweet about it, the message will spread faster and further as other active users pick it up. There is a viral nature to all types of news, even on a site like Twitter.

  5. Read News. Twitter users often link to useful sites or articles and can be a source of scoops and alternative news. You can also subscribe to Twitter feeds for specific websites/conferences, which allows you to receive and view content quickly. This is very useful for active social news participants.

  6. Make New Friends. Like any other social network, Twitter has a built-in function for you to befriend and track the messages of other users. This is an easy way for you connect with people outside of your usual circle. Make an effort to add active users you find interesting. A Twitter acquaintance can be developed into a long lasting friendship.

  7. Network for benefits. Twitter can be used as a socializing platform for you to interact with other like-minded people, especially those in the same industry. It can be used to establish consistent and deeper relationships for future benefits such as testimonials or peer recommendations.

  8. Use it as a ToDo list. Use Twitter to record down what you need to do while you are away from the computer. Mark the tweet as a favorite to file it for referencing. Another alternative is to use an Online task management service that is synced with Twitter. One example is Remember The Milk.

  9. Business Management. Twitter can be used as a company intranet that connects employees to one another. Workers can liaise with each other when working on group projects. Particularly useful when certain workers go out often in the field. Updates could be set to private for security reasons.

  10. Notify Your Customers. Set up a Twitter feed for the specific purpose of notifying customers when new products come in. Customers can subscribe via mobile or RSS for instant notification. Twitter can also be used to provide mini-updates for one-on-one clients.

  11. Take Notes. Twitter provides you with an easy way to record important ideas or concepts you want to explore further. Include links relevant to ideas you want to explore. Note taking can also be done offline via mobile applications.

  12. Event Updates. Businesses can use Twitter as a means to inform event participants and latest event happenings/changes. This is a hassle-free way of disseminating information, especially when you don’t have the means to set up a direct mobile link between you and the audience

  13. Find Prospects. Twitter can be used as a means to find potential customers or clients online. Do a search for keywords related to your product on Terraminds and then follow users. Tweet about topics parallel to your product and close prospects away from public channels by using direct messages or offline communications. Discretion and skill is needed in this area.

  14. Provide Live coverage. Twitter’s message size limit prevents detailed coverage of events but it can allow you to provide real-time commentary which may help to spark further discussion or interest on the event as other Twitter users spread the message. Very useful for citizen journalism.

  15. Time Management and Analysis. Twitter can simply be used to keep a detailed record of what you are doing every daily. This might be boring for others but this type of usage is useful when you want to analyze how you spend and manage your time.

  16. Set Up Meetings. Twitter can help you organize impromptu meetups. For example, you can twitter a message while at a cafe, event or art gallery and arrange to meet fellow users at a specific spot. It’s an informal and casual way of arranging a meeting.

  17. Acquire Votes. Send a link to your stories you’ve submitted in other social news sites like Digg. Sometimes your followers will vote up the stories because they agree with it. This allows you to acquire more support for your efforts on other social media websites.

I suspect I’ll be writing a little more about Twitter in the future including a roundup and summary of some of the articles I found really useful (there were quite a few).

Hopefully this article has given some ideas on how to use Twitter to promote yourself and your business or website. If you found this article useful, feel free to send it to your Twitter friends. I’ll love to get some feedback.

Or you can also follow me on Twitter here. Send me a message and say hi! ^_^

For more social media optimization tips, subscribe to Dosh Dosh today.

260 Comments - Share Your Thoughts
  • Very interesting. I haven’t tried Twitter yet, although I’ve heard a lot of people really love it. It seemed like a distraction to me, and my time for working on my business is pretty limited anyhow. Nice to see some of the ways it can work.

  • nice one - I’ve got a similar post queued at ProBlogger for the next few days. Looks like you beat me to the punch on this one.

    Was going to publish it last night but Twitter’s had big problems since the MacWorld keynote so I thought I’d hold off for a few days

  • Twitter is neat because you start doing it and the fun is in the doing itself. You are updating your friends about silly little things, and they are doing the same for you, and the whole thing sort of sucks you in. You don’t think it’s going to be addictive or engaging with such a limited message length but it really is neat.

    Definite potential for distraction. Lots of opportunity there as well. Great post!

  • hey,
    I remember using twitter long time ago, but it annoyed me to hell when I was constantly twittered as I had accidently put in my profile that I am 24/F/Italy. But Yes I have been using Snitter recently and surprisingly its a altogether different thing. Wnder whats changed! THanks for the post anyway!
    I m writing apost in my blog and trackbacking one of yoru post, hope you dn’t mind,

  • Great timely post on Twitter, Maki. More and more people seem to be adopting it for many of the uses mentioned here. I’m glad you put in the link to Kathy Sierra - miss her writing. :(

  • über interessant! Thank you! :)

  • I really like to use Twitter as a personal productivity tool. To record important ‘to do’ things or to take notes, like in items 8 e 11.

    Items 12 e 14 are also pretty nice. It’s perfect for that.

  • Thanks Maki. This is a very timely article. I’ve just started on Twitter myself.

  • I’ve started using Twitter for another part of my life as well … tracking, and encouraging me to exercise.
    Using the http://gtftr.com robot I get graphs of my workouts and it I’m slacking off my friends can see and nag me!

  • Thanks for the great article. I’ve never used twitter but I’ll be checking it out after reading this.

  • There are definitely ideas here that I want to use more “strategically” with twitter. Up to this point, it’s just been fun to see what people are doing and “chase the stars”. I really can see how twitter can be a great way to promote what you are all about.

    One of the best things I’ve found through twitter is the branding. I go to a conference in California and people actually know who I am because of my twitter username (mollermarketing). Great post - I’ll write something about this on my blog and link you in for sure. Thanks.

  • Great article - I never quite understood the point of twitter before - but I think I’ll be checking it out now!

  • I like twitter and use it almost everyday, but the problem with it is the search option. You can only search a specific name and nothing else. I think they should improve the search option and add more features such as: country, age etc.

  • Interesting post. I have a twitter account, but I so rarely remember to update it. I’ll probably try out this Snitter program you speak of =) I’m also following you now. Feel special.

  • Hey Maki… I’m a new Twitter convert and am loving it. Your list of uses for Twitter was great as I had already used it for some of those purposes, but hadn’t even thought of some of the others.

  • “You’ll just need to integrate it within your normal workflow.”

    Most definitely. Like you, I’ve had an account for a while but only recently started really using it. Installing Twitterfox, helped me a lot in integrating it into my normal workflow, as did adding the “TwitThis” bookmark.

    And I’d like to echo NowSourcing’s remark about missing Kathy Sierra’s writing. CPU was one of my favorite blogs.

  • I just signed up for an account in Twitter and I must say I really am enjoying posting updates and as well as reading my friends’ updates.

  • I too thought of using it for an action and capture system. Would need to be extended, though… Also, backup would be a concern, as would search. Thanks!

  • Great list - got me thinking & has taught me a thing or three.

    I’ve had access to Twitter since end November, but to be honest have only put in occasional updates on what I’m doing as I don’t often have the time to Twitter. (Also not sure I can justify it time-wise - is it a good ROI for me? Not yet sure)

    However, I can certainly see the benefits of Twittering as a means of continuing the conversation with potential sales leads, particularly when selling big ticket items.

    This can fill in the gaps between IM and Push Broadcasting of traditional email campaigns?

    I guess, it’s also useful for leaders to converse with their followers & listen to them.

  • Excellent post, Maki. I haven’t started using Twitter yet but I will start using it soon…

  • I haven’t used Twitter too much recently. I did find it very useful when I attended Blog Orlando. Josh Hallett, the coordinator of Blog Orlando, set up a “Blog Orlando” group.

    During the “un-conference” as Josh calls it, we could Twitter back and forth to each other. If we had a question about a session or couldn’t find something, we could send out a Tweed and get an answer.

    During the opening session, Josh sent out a Tweed saying the first person to show him the Tweed wins a free ipod.

  • Excellent post and nice review and great presentation… i like it

    thanks.

  • I’ve been using Twitter for quite a while. It seems to me that Twitter works best when you invite your followers to the site. Not try to find them there.

  • Thats some really good points.

  • Intersting article. I would like to ask permission from author to copy part (with link to original) of it as introductory and discussion for http://www.tweets.ning.com members.
    Cheers.
    Jevs

  • I love Twitter. I use it all day everyday. I have created a couple different profiles that use twitter feeds from my blogs to automatically post. I get many new visitors from it!

  • Their are some really great points. I like the way he shows 3 different ways to use twitter. Building friends first let’s people know you have something to offer and you are not just marketing to them.

  • I like all the points offered. I have never used twitter and plan to start using it today. The post shows how to use twitter to still offer value in the midst of the marketing you are trying to accomplish. People are more willing to listen if you offer some value as well as your sells pitch.

  • Hi Tamar

    Another amazing post…I am a new user on Twitter and I already see quite a few benefits of following the right people.You get snippets of information and links to resources that are quite helpful….thanks again:)

  • I will use twitter for my blog. How good is spock.com to promote

  • Yes branding can be really crucial in your marketing, when u banrd yourself or your blog you can really convert very good as people will trust you.

  • I like Twitter as a micro RSS feed when I’m *really* having attention deficit breakdown. “Argh, my reader’s got too much stuff to even look at it . . . but hey look, new Hugh Macleod post. And off I go.

    It does kind of make me sad when someone is interesting but posts so many damn Tweets that I have to unfollow them.

    Merlin Mann is the Twitter master as far as I’m concerned. Just the right frequency and they’re usually hilarious.

  • I am using twittercal.com user/tool to post to my Google Calendar. Very cool. I also am using Remember The Milk.

  • Maki, great post as always. One thing I would like to ask is that are you using any SEO plugin for this wordpress blog or is it just standard out of the box.

    Thanks.

  • I have a Twitter account. I use it to post short messages of what I was doing–some not relating to my blog.. I still update it, but only a few times a month. After reading this, I’m going to start using it more. Thanks for the post. :)

  • Good concluding article of many articles that have been published before on this topic.

    We use Twitter to communicate about the latest updates on our website.

    In addition we wrote an article on microblogging for the enterprise: http://www.corporatewebsite.co.....y_doing%3F

  • twitter sux… i dont like it :(

  • Hey Maki, great post. It’s nice getting a comprehensive list of ways to use Twitter. So many people seem to think the tool is completely irrelevant and unusable. But, as I always say, if people are using it to communicate, then marketers can use it to communicate as well.

    I’m subscribing to your Twitter. Although, truthfully, I don’t use it a lot. As soon as I get my internet-capable phone I’m sure I’ll be a Twitter addict. Soon isn’t soon enough.

  • It was translated into Chinese now.

  • I haven’t used twitter in yet but maybe I should start.

  • Maki -
    Thanks for taking the time to write this information-packed review about Twitter. I found you through Muhammad Saleem’s Pronet Advertising blog and it’s no wonder he recommended your post. Great stuff!

  • I love this article. By the way, I take DoshDosh very seriously and if you check my site - it is one of the Top-5 investments blogs already, thanks to doshdosh.Rob
    http://www.WallastonInvestments.com

  • Hate to open up a can of worms, but something usually neglected with Twitter is the Google Juice you can get out of creative linking. Very surprising, but I have noticed it. It took a friend pointing it out to me.

  • Off-topic: You love Clannad aren’t you. Especially Tomoyo eh?

  • realy interesting. i will try.

    thanks

  • You can also use Twitter as a storytelling medium: http://www.goodcaptain.com

  • Great list. I just posted one myself for using Twitter as a marketing took for the video game industry. I especially like 10, 12 and 16 as those where on my list too. You can check out the post below if you are interested.

    http://www.bandwidthcamp.com/2.....thursdays/

  • I use Twitter (and Jaiku) for occasional Haikus.

  • Twitter is good as long as you don’t have a phone that requires you to manually download each text message (like 98% of Nextel hpones, also including Boost Mobile, which I have).

    I casually communicate with a few people over Twitter, and closely follow one of them. However, it is a bit disconcerting to recieve Twitter updates any time of day (including during class in a school that almost outright bans cell phones).

  • Nice! Loved the tip about Branding because that’s what I’m working on.

  • Thanks for a great article. I think Twitter can be good for some marketers and product owners, and others will benefit more from other tools. I have printed it out and will read it on my train ride home. Old-fashioned, yes, I know:-)

  • i stumbled upon this since i don’t know that much about twitter but could not really figure out anyway twitter could be of productive value. quite frankly, i’m still skeptical, despite this well written article. however, i’m totally mawking the wallpapers used in the presentation! good article, thanks for the info even though it is not relevant to me at the moment.

  • I just finished up a tutorial on posting to twitter automatically using your Gtalk status message.
    It’s located here:
    http://how2pointoh.blogspot.co.....itter.html

    Check it out and let me know what you think.

    Rob Edwards

  • You can also use Twitter for expense tracking and reporting by sending direct messages to the user “xpn”. Details at http://twitter.com/xpn and http://xpenser.com/ .

  • Thanks for a great article. I think Twitter can be good for some marketers and product owners, and others will benefit more from other tools. I have printed it out and will read it on my train ride home. Old-fashioned, yes, I know:-)

  • I casually communicate with a few people over Twitter, and closely follow one of them. However, it is a bit disconcerting to recieve Twitter updates any time of day (including during class in a school that almost outright bans cell phones).

  • wow, nice post! I learned a lot…

  • I’ve just started using Twitter and lacked somw direction as far as how to use it goes but after reading this article, I might give a little bit more effort into using it.

  • …loved the way you broke down the possibilities. I’ve been using Twitter for over 6 months, and still don’t have a firm handle on it’s best use. I like the idea of a reminder to buy milk, but do I really want my clients to see that? Welcome to the wonderful world of Web 2.0 :-)

  • | I like the idea of a reminder to buy milk,
    | but do I really want my clients to see that?

    Direct messages to RememberTheMilk (rtm) do no get posted on Twitter, rather they get sent directly to RememberTheMilk, to be used to add a ToDo to your own personal list of ToDos, that are not publicly viewable.

  • grace v on February 11th, 2008

    I just started using twitter, so this article is a great eye-opener for how to use it, but here’s my problem: I’ve only got like 5 friends that use it. What is the best way to browse for new friends in some kind of meaningful way?

  • More twitterlicious uses for tweeting

  • It sounds like I need to get to Twittering. Thanks for the Information

  • I have used twitter after your reading your post and it works for my blog. I have few traffice from twitter and i have also started using pownce as u said in one of your post. thanks mate you are a dude

    reg
    rushitshah.com

  • Twitter is something I haven’t really gotten into yet and I’m having a hard time mustering up the gumption to get into it. I think since it seems so similar to the “Status” field on Facebook, and having away messages (and now status messages as well) on AIM, it adds yet another ‘away message’ type blurb to keep track of.

  • Just realising the power of Twitter now … it’s good, very good.

  • wow! super great tips! thank you Maki! =)

  • Thanks for the article. You gave me another to open a twitter account, and I just did. You can “twitter” me at http://twitter.com/fusionfoot

  • I have enjoyed Twitter thusfar. An amazing array of characters out there. I’ve had time to meet a lot of quality peeps who are following me and I’m growing a list of people I like to follow.

    Great opportunity to share the latest and greatest going on with my business, with nutrition, with how to make money online.

  • Dosh Dosh made a good overview of ways Twitter is used.

    I find it interesting to see that Twitter is used also for:

    - internal business communication: connecting employees with one another;
    - for customer services - notifying customers of e.g. new products and releases

    http://jeroendemiranda.wordpress.com

  • New to Twitter, but absolutely loving it. Thanks so much for tip 17 in particular. Brilliant!

  • […] Extra twitter reading […] Different Ways to Use Twitter […]

  • I just started using twitter last week. I still have not found or experience the rave that everyone is speaking of. I have connected twitter with my blog, a small announcement tool but as I said before I am not totally sold on it.

  • Thanks… great post! now I know what all this Twitter hype is all about.

  • I’ve been thinking about studying twitter traffic possibilities. I googled and I’m glad the top result is very reliable and information jammed.

    Good post Maki…

    -Liane

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