Everyone seems to be atwitter about Twitter. The free online service lets users send and receive very short messages -- no longer than 140 characters apiece. A typical Twitter message, known as a "tweet," might provide a quick update on what you’re doing or request help with a problem. Users post tweets to a personal Web page from their cell phones, PDAs or computers. How Twitter can be useful and how to sign up...
TWITTER FOR FUN AND FAMILY
To use Twitter in your personal life...
Keep friends and family updated on your life when you don’t have the time or inclination to call or e-mail. You might tweet, "We arrived home safely from our trip"... or, "The car’s running again. It was just a fuse."
Real-life tweet: A passenger on a plane that skidded off a Denver runway last winter used his cell phone to tweet about the event moments after it occurred. His friends never had to worry about his safety, because they got his tweet and learned that he was unharmed before the incident was reported in the media.
Arrange social activities, even at the last minute. Rather than place dozens of calls to find someone who is free, send out a single tweet. This tweet might read, "I’m going fishing. Anyone want to join me?"
Real-life tweet: Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal used Twitter to inform his friends and fans that he was sitting down to dinner alone in Phoenix. A pair of local basketball fans drove to the diner and hung out with him.
Solicit opinions, advice or assistance on short notice. You could tweet, "Can anyone suggest a good place for dinner in Albany?"... or, "My car broke down in Portland. Can anyone recommend a good mechanic?"
TWITTER FOR BUSINESS
To use Twitter in your professional life...
Keep colleagues and clients up-to-date about schedules and plans. You could tweet, "Any customer expecting a service call today will receive one by 5:00 pm despite the snow" or, "My flight was delayed. Can someone stand in for me at this afternoon’s meeting?"
Search for tweets about your company, industry or products written by other Twitter users, then provide fast feedback. A plumber might offer responses to plumbing-related questions to build goodwill with customers. A manufacturer might respond to a complaint about a product with troubleshooting tips, turning negative buzz about the product into positive buzz about the company’s customer service.
For example, cable company Comcast has a customer service employee monitor Twitter for mentions of Comcast and respond quickly.
Show clients and potential clients the person behind the business.Customers are more likely to trust you if they believe that they know you and like you as a person. To build this human connection, tweet about your hobbies... your charitable work... or your company’s softball game, in addition to your business and products.
HOW TO SIGN UP
Twitter is easy to use. Visit www.twitter.com, click "New to Twitter? Join today" and follow the simple directions.
E-mail a link to your Twitter Web page to keep friends, family, colleagues and clients posted on your life or business. You can find people to follow by clicking on "Find People" from your Twitter home page.
Warning: Click "Settings," then check the box by "Protect my updates" on your Twitter account page if you want to maintain control over who reads your tweets. Leave this unchecked only if you do not expect to share sensitive information and would like to reach strangers as well as friends. Always be careful. If you are going to be out of town for a few weeks, you may not want to tweet about that if everyone can read your posts.
You also can choose to receive tweets from individuals on your cell phone. Though Twitter is free, your service provider may charge you when you send or receive messages from your phone depending on your plan.