Some of my friends (and relatives) are not using Twitter yet.. wait, actually most of them are not.

When I ask them why, answers range from “It’s not for me!”/”why should I care?” to “I don’t have time!”/”it’s a waste of time!” and even “what is twitter?”/”how does it work?”

Sometimes I even try to convince them to give it a go, and now I have decided to write down reasons to start using Twitter, and ways to go about it, efficiently.

Before we get to the WHY and later the HOW, let’s just make sure we understand what this Twitter social networking platform is, say, compared to a Facebook or LinkedIn. Some specificities of Twitter to keep in mind are:

  • Tweets are limited to 140 characters, including URLs, yes that’s short, FB posts allow over 60k chars if I am not mistaken
  • They are also text only, but can comprise a URL pointing to anything of course (and twitter clients tend to show linked material)
  • And they have a very short life (but remember everything you say online is public and may be backed up somewhere!)
  • Following is not necessarily reciprocated, as opposed to friending in FB, although now there is also a subscribe thing there

Ok, there is more, but let’s get to the WHY before this gets too long ;-)

Why use Twitter ?

By “why” I mean “What For” here.. Here is just a few that, in my opinion, make Twitter potentially extremely useful to practically anyone

  1. Source of information, news, knowledge (no less)
  2. Communication channel (with close ones as well as peers and customers etc)
  3. Get and provide answers and help (yes, give and get some too)

These sound like good reasons ? Wait, let me elaborate a bit:

Twitter can be a great source of information

Yes, there is enough clever people on it for that, of course there is a bunch of retarded ones too, but the good news is you don’t have to listen to them, I mean follow them.

Now, this, like a lot of other great things in life, might require some effort. The idea is to follow enough people to obtain a solid twitter feed of news and links to articles, complete, and covering all your interests – wait, only those you are happy to share, online = public remember ?

Of course, following a bunch of people will make your twitter unusable.. if not for Twitter Lists and other tools (e.g. Zite and Smartr) that we will discuss in the HOW section, where we’ll look at Twitter Search, Hashtags and more tools to find interesting people to follow, soon.

Twitter as a communication channel

That’s actually what it was initially created for, using sms, but that’s not the point, although even with iMessage around, it still provides a free messaging system, an sms alternative.

Another use of it is broadcasting messages, where messages are not directed, privately or publicly, at a specific recipient, but simply sent out. That’s how you do “micro-blogging“, and also how you can use it for PR, Marketing and Event support. Of course, for this use, you will want followers, and good ones – that’s followers who are actually interested in what you have to say, or may retweet your message to people who do.

But wait, that is not all, you can also be reached via twitter, customers, partners, peers, everyone actually, can send you @ messages by including your twitter name in their tweet, prefixed with the @ sign (e.g. “@Ant0ineH bonjour !” or “Hello @Ant0ineH !”) or, if you follow them, they can also send you direct messages (private ones).

Twitter to get (and provide) answers and help

It actually works, even though here again you will need good followers. And since it’s already the second time I use this phrase, let’s write it out loud, the quality is much more important than the number of your twitter followers – which also applies to your following btw..

Ask questions, you may very well get some answer(s) and it can also be very very fast. Remember to give thanks. And one last trick here, answer some questions too, regularly, this will increase your chances of getting answers to yours. Celebrities and companies use twitter as an Innovation tool, testing ideas on, and getting ideas from their followers

Now, I know we’ve made your twitter stream unusable earlier, and finding questions to answer sound like something you’d do by manually scanning it.. Well, we will deal with this later in the HOWs, using searches and hashtags and lists.

Thanks for reading this today, and I hope it has given you enough reasons to create your twitter account, of course it’s okay to wait for part #2 and some HOWs before you actually do it, but why wait ?

Do you need more reasons ? What are your objections to using twitter ?

Hopefully we can give you more of those and wipe off some of these in part #2, coming soon, stay tuned !