What’s The Point In Twitter?


This is a question I have been asked several times recently, despite how long Twitter has been in the limelight by now and so I thought it worth a post. Basically, Twitter rocks, it is one of the few social networks which I can honestly say I enjoy using. Where Facebook is an awful demonstration of the combination of bringing the masses online coupled with the Facebook mantra ‘Better Done Than Perfect’, LinkedIn is a place to collect contacts and other networks such as Steam and Last.fm can be very useful due to how specific a solution they provide, Twitter has many uses. Here are some:

  • Conferences / Events: Not only will most events have a Twitter account to follow for the latest information before and during the event, the real power of Twitter here is in the use of #hashtags by attendees. The more people at any given event which use the hashtag the more value you will get from following the tag (events related to IT and marketing win out), however most events of any scale now will have plenty of Tweets allowing you to interact with other attendess (or speakers etc) and generally get an idea of what is going on around you.
  • Company Interactions: The thing to remember here is that Twitter is a truly public space, so as you can imagine any company of a good size will have some kind of reputation management going on. Not only have I found companies a lot more responsive generally on Twitter than through other contact mediums, they will tend to do all they can to publicly improve (or save) their reputation.
  • Industry Influencers: No matter in what industry you work, there will be experts in your field. Some of these will be on Twitter publicly talking about related topics and current issues, we all learn from others and Twitter can be a great tool to find those ‘others’.
  • Celebrities: Not my favourite reason, but I do still follow a few. Some people seem to use the platform exclusively to stalk celebs.
  • Competitions: A hell of a lot of companies and organisations run competitions through their Twitter accounts, many of which will be in a very simple follow and retweet format.
  • Friends: It’s always interesting to see what you friends are up to so following people you know in real life is a common use, though reach is no where near that of Facebook. Even though you may not understand the subjects a friend Tweets about it is always interesting to get some insight of what exactly it is they do.
  • Rants: Publicly venting is great fun (though be careful not to get collared for slander or  threatening messages!), thoughts, opinion, whatever.
  • Information: There are plenty of accounts to follow which will simply be posting snippets of information, these could be anything from industry / subject related matter to quotes to code snippets.
  • Site Updates: In much the same way as we use RSS feed readers, following some accounts for news of site updates can be very useful for keeping up without having to check the actual site itself.

Not an exhaustive list of course, but the simplicity of the platform really does hide the sheer number of use cases for it. As an aside I would argue that the fact that so many people don’t “get” Twitter is a very, very good thing, as this really helps to make it a network where a larger proportion of those using it are using it “well”. All of this is of course from an individual / consumer’s perceptive, the platform is even more attractive for company customer service and marketing departments.

I’m aware I have still not posted part two and three of my series on PHP error handling, will get round to this eventually :P

About Ingmar Boddington

Codemonkey, Sheffield, UK
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