The Purpose of Twitter
By Sophie Southern
In laymen's terms, Twitter is a website for sharing what you are doing an any given moment with other people online. In more complicated terms, Twitter is a powerful social networking tool for both business and personal use. Twitter uses "tweets," which are the 140-character (maximum) messages you post to your Twitter profile. The restriction on length is one of the features that makes Twitter unique compared with other social networking sites.
One of the primary purposes for creating a Twitter account is to network online. Twitter's system of shortened links and hashtags make it easy to find people or businesses posting tweets in the same areas that you are. Hashtags are hyperlink keywords embedded into tweets; you can turn any word into a hashtag by adding the "#" sign before the word in the body of your tweet. Twitter's "@Mention" system allows you to contact any other Twitter user, regardless of whether or not they follow you, by placing an "@" symbol in front of the Twitter user name in the body of your tweet.
Many businesses, bloggers and website owners use their Twitter profiles to increase traffic and find new visitors for their websites. Embedding links into tweets is one of the ways you can use Twitter to increase traffic to your website. Link-shortening services allow you to create links with as few characters as possible to leave space within Twitter's 140-character limit. Most of these link-shortening services also allow you to track statistics and see how many Twitter users click your links.
Using Twitter provides the opportunity to take innovative approaches for promoting your business. Many businesses specifically offer special deals and promotions exclusively through Twitter. Twitter's "retweet" function allows other Twitter users to re-post your tweet if they find it interesting; being retweeted by several popular Twitter users can significantly increase exposure for you tweet and your business. You can also use your Twitter account as a way to allow your customers to get in touch with you directly without having to go through customer service.
Although Twitter has become a useful business tool, many Twitter users still use the service to share what they are doing with their friends online. You can use Twitter to tell your friends what you are doing or share interesting websites you find online. Twitter photo-sharing services, such as TwitPic and YFrog, allow you to post photos to share with your friends through Twitter.
Sophie Southern has been a freelance writer since 2004. Her writing has been featured in "JPG" magazine and on Zlio.com. Southern holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the School of Visual Arts.