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I love Twitter.  I’ve told people I love Twitter.  The common responses are “What is Twitter?” and “Explain this Twitter to me, I don’t get it.”  My responses have been different for every person who asks.  At first I told people that if they didn’t already know, it probably wasn’t worth them worrying about — but that’s just rude.  I’ve refined my answer a bit.  I now tell people that Twitter is different things to different people, it all depends on the person.  I think this holds a fair amount of truth.  I now make an effort to give people a specific example of how they might use Twitter, without trying to explain how everybody else uses it.  Here are a few of my explanations…

6 Ways People Enjoy Using Twitter

Voyeurism & Exhibitionism: Watch or be watched.  Some people ( mostly famous people ) have thousands of followers but don’t follow anybody back.  Other people follow hundreds of people but don’t really have much to say.  Whether you want to follow or be followed, you can find all sorts of interesting people on Twitter.  There are a bunch of famous people on Twitter, and more and more are joining up every day.  If you love to watch the rich and famous, Twitter gives you an inside look – straight from the stars themselves.   While I’m not a huge star follower, a couple who I find interesting or amusting are Trent Reznor, Collective Soul, and Rainn Wilson.

Self Promotion: It seems to me that a LOT of the folks on Twitter are there to promote some aspect of themselves.  While this may sound kind of spammy, I think it’s actually been a part of Twitter’s success.  Without these energetic self-promoters, there wouldn’t be so many great links and articles posted all of the time.  Fact is, if you feel like somebody you follow is posting too much about their service or their blog – you just unfollow them!  Some of my favorite people to follow could be put in this category.  Check out Guy Kawasaki, Pete Cashmore (mashable),

Site or Service Feed: Most of these accounts aren’t really given a face at all, but are a straight up branded feed. For something like a sports feed, you might get real time updates to big games or headlines.  For others, the updates are similar to what you would find on the RSS feed to any of their blogs.  If you like their content, be updated instantly when they have something new you might enjoy!  Smashing Magazine, Net Tuts, USA Today Sports, ESPN, Foodimentary

Social & Personal Networking: The heart and soul of Twitter!  You have the ability to communicate with people from around the world.  There are several directory sites where people tag themselves based on interests, occupations, or hobbies.  Twitter gives you the ability to surround yourself with people who are interested in the same things.  Following people with similar interests means your Twitter stream may be filled with links and topics you’ll find interesting!  Being connected to similar people means you’ll have more to chat about, and you never know who you’ll end up talking to!  Some people REALLY get Twitter.  Some of the ‘Twitter Elite’ to check out are Chris Brogan, Mayhem Studios, Buzz Edition, Peter Santilli, and Chris Pirillo.

Professional Networking: Communicate with people from around the world who have the same or similar occupations.  Have a question about a project you’re working on?  Maybe somebody in your network can help!

Search & Be Found: A side note, but one worth mentioning, is that Twitter is quickly becoming a really interesting search tool.  You’re able to see what people are talking about, and get real-time results on topics you’re interested in.  The flip side of that, is that lots of other people are searching Twitter, too, and may see what you’ve said about a topic.  I’ve had 2 interesting incidents with this.  One day I was upset that a friend had almost been phished through eBay.  I tweeted my disgust and was instantly contacted by an eBay representative you asked me for additional information.  Contacting eBay about the incident had not resulted in removal of the listing.  My discussion with eBay’s Twitter person DID get it removed.  Another day I was curious about collecting a small amount of money through a debt collector.  I asked if anybody knew a good collection agency.  Within 20 minutes I received a phone call from one agency, and I received a tweet from another.  Both interested in handling my case!  The really wild thing is that I hadn’t given out my number.  The agency that called me actually tracked me down.  That’s putting Twitter to work!

If you haven’t tried Twitter yet, I highly suggest you do.  At first it seems confusing and unnecessary, but over time you might learn to appreciate it as much as the thousands of people who are as addicted as I am.  I’ve given a few ways that I’ve seen people use it.  Which one might work for you?  Maybe you’ll find a use that I haven’t even imagined.  Twitter is still fairly new to most people, and it keeps evolving.  Check it out!


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