Twitter For Dummies
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You can use Twitter for much more than keeping up with your friends and family. Whether you use it to stay on top of your industry, breaking news, or tidbits from your favorite shows and celebrities, Twitter has many cool and diverse uses. The possibilities are endless.

Socialize and network

The most engaged people on Twitter largely use it to keep up with their various social and business circles.

On the go, it’s really easy to stay in touch with someone and follow up later by simply exchanging usernames with someone. Later on, you can find her again, recommend her to someone else, send her an @Mention, or just check in on her last few days before sending her an email.

Follow breaking news

Twitter continues to grow as a resource for breaking news. Over and over again almost since the beginning, major emerging world news events often break first on Twitter and are then picked up by the mainstream broadcast media.

Sourcing standards for journalism still apply, of course, and you can easily lose what really has happened until a definitive account is posted on a major news site, such as The New York Times or CNN.

Find, follow, and fan celebrities

Celebrities from all walks of life have discovered that they can forge a direct connection with their fans by using Twitter. A quick look at the top 100 most followed accounts on Twitter per Twitter Counter shows how dominant celebrities — and their fan bases — have become on the site.

Not sure who to follow? Connect with your favorites in two dozen categories, including athletes, musicians, and world leaders, by checking out Twitter’s Popular accounts page.

Participate in live media

Never before was it so simple for audiences to connect with one another while they are all watching an event unfold together. Live sporting events, season premieres and finales, awards shows, and reality television contests all have avid Twitter fan communities you can find and watch in real time.

While hosting PBS’ A Capitol Fourth, Washington, D.C.’s annual July 4th concert and fireworks event, Tom Bergeron (@Tom_Bergeron) repeatedly asked viewers to tweet their thoughts on the show using the hashtag #July4thPBS.

Engage with shared media

When you start listening, you’ll find book clubs, writing groups, and more.

It’s been years since a major motion picture was released anywhere without at least some thought being given to how Twitter could help research, connect with, and grow the movie’s audience.

It’s not all marketing. Fans have done incredibly creative things with Twitter, like Geoff Todd’s @OnePerfectShot account, which posts a single frame from each movie, selected for how well it captures the spirit of the entire film.

Optimize your lifestyle

If it’s a section in the Sunday The New York Times, there’s something interesting happening on Twitter about it. Fashion? Yep. Arts? Of course. Travel? Are you kidding?

Twitter wine pioneers like Rick Bakas (@RickBakas) and Paul Mabray (@PMabray) of VinTank (@VinTank) are still cranking away, and you can now find most wine publications and vineyards on Twitter in one form or another.

Airlines, trains, car companies, and more all use Twitter to keep their corporate finger on the pulse of a lot more than just brand perception. Some airlines, like Southwest (@SouthwestAir), have taken it one step further and use Twitter to track flow at various airports, monitor problems in real time, report delays, and so on.

Support charities, causes, and education

Charities have raised money and forwarded their missions right on Twitter. Causes have gained steam, accessed global audiences, and been more able to organize. Kidney and marrow donors found. Missing persons searches quickly mobilized and spread, ad hoc emergency responses coordinated.

The world of education is no different. Teachers tweeting their lessons. Students tweeting questions about their homework. Schools using Twitter to communicate with their communities.

To cite just one example, classes with a Twitter-fueled back channel (ideas, observations, questions, and comments coming from the audience) have even been taught at colleges and universities around the world, including the esteemed Harvard business and law schools.

Plan and promote events

Often, great event promotion hinges on your use of a hashtag to bring the event community together. This helps participants connect with one another, which is one of the greatest values an event can provide. This also helps remote participants follow along.

A good hashtag is short enough to remember and spell correctly, unique enough to filter out the noise, and most of all it is agreed upon and used widely among the people at the event or following along remotely.

There are tools like Tweetwall that allow moderation and that can put a little delay into your display and help you reduce the chances of abusive Tweets getting through.

Find inspiration and personal and professional development

Want to stay abreast of advances in your industry, learn a new skill, lose weight, or get inspired? Look no further than Twitter for a surprising array of options to help you.

Have you heard of Twitter chats? At the core, what’s happening is that a group of people are deciding to all communicate with each other at a set time by all looking at the same set of Twitter search results.

They do this by picking, using, and following a given hashtag. #JournChat, started by @PRSarahEvans, is widely considered to have been the first. Hundreds, if not thousands, have followed suit. Depending on your industry, a weekly or biweekly Twitter chat might be a great way to hone your skills and stay on top of recent developments.

Invent new uses of Twitter

Twitter, more than any other online social media platform, is a system that has been constantly shaped and reshaped by the patterns, habits and conventions its users have developed. All the cool ways to use came from someone very like you dipping their toe in and trying something that then became something, that evolved into something else, that totally became a thing.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Laura Fitton was one of the first marketers to discover the value of Twitter for businesses and society. She founded Twitter app store and sold it to HubSpot. She’s now Inbound Marketing Evangelist for Hubspot. Anum Hussain speaks to thousands on how to effectively use social media - in classrooms, at conferences and even alongside Twitter’s Small Business Team. Brittany Leaning writes about social media strategy for HubSpot’s 1.6 million readers and has managed accounts for several well-known brands.

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