Twitter is a social networking web application that provides users with the ability to share information. Twitter users post status updates, news, jokes, events and other information. Posts are limited to 140 characters and can be sent from and received via text messaging in addition to traditional desktop applications. The brief, "micro-blog" format and ease of mobile posting allows users to post and follow up-to-the-minute news.
Using Twitter to post about daily life allows friends and family members to keep in touch. Many people post on topics such as road trips, raising their children and major life events, allowing those close to them to feel more connected on a daily basis. Clubs and other groups use Twitter to stay connected between face-to-face meetings, allowing them to more frequently discuss common interests and share the latest news. Twitter has often brought people together simply because they live in the same community and use Twitter, building a "neighborly" atmosphere. Local Twitter users who have nothing more in common than simply location will meet in face-to-face meetings called "Tweet-ups."
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Following the local reporters, politicians, businesses and private citizens who post information about the community allows followers to keep in touch with current events. Community posts often include traffic reports, weather, local news, special events, restaurant reviews and other information useful to locals and visitors alike.
National and world events, from sports and entertainment to major breaking news, draw a lot of attention from Twitter users. Many people at the site of an event may be posting, providing followers with eye witness accounts from a variety of perspectives. Large scale events, from television shows to natural disasters, become the topics of enough posts and discussion to appear as Twitter "Trending Topics," giving Twitter users an idea of what is current, important and popular.
Promotion and Outreach
Individuals, businesses and organizations can use Twitter to promote themselves, drawing attention to events, raising awareness about their products and services and creating "buzz" around their brands. Many businesses have integrated Twitter and other social networking tools into their customer service and support systems.
Watching for and responding to mentions of their brands, businesses can take a direct hand in managing the buzz around their business. Businesses can reward those who spread a positive message, often with a simple expression of gratitude. Negative coverage can often be circumvented by reaching out to unhappy customers to help resolve their issues.
Many Twitter users, even those who tend to read instead of post, have taken advantage of the wide range of businesses, expertise, opinions and knowledge easily accessed via Twitter. By simply searching Twitter posts, it is possible to quickly find informal reviews of a product or service. Often, users will pose a question and quickly have recommendations, ideas and offers of assistance in response. People planning a vacation can get recommendations from the locals on where to eat and what to do. Many businesses have customer service quickly and easily available, providing direct assistance when possible and guiding customers to the appropriate level of help when necessary.