Twitter has become a global phenomenon, and like any phenom, all the Twitter talk grows quickly tiresome. But despite what you may think, Twitter isn’t just for narcissists; it’s actually insanely useful.
So let’s assume that you already know about the navel-gazing uses of Twitter—the aspects of Twitter that most people criticize when they complain about the site. Discounting Twitter altogether because you think it’s ridiculous that people tweet about what they had for breakfast is like claiming that email is useless because of forward chains. It’s a mistake, and you’d be missing out on a great tool if you let that put you off Twitter completely.
Twitter is as worthwhile as you want to make it, and it’s completely up to you to decide how you use it. In fact, Twitter does several very worthwhile things better than any other tool.
1. Instant, Real-Time Search Results
The real-time search applies to so much more. If the signal on my phone goes out, I check Twitter to see if there’s some sort of AT&T outage in my area. If I want to know what people are saying about something important to me, I hit up Twitter. What you get is like a centralised, searchable, real-time comment-thread for everything. Yes, like all comment threads, you’ll find a good amount of crap. But that doesn’t render the entire thread worthless. Bookmark Twitter Search now and use it next time Google or your favourite blog search engine fails you.
2. Monitoring Something You Care About
Still, even if you’re not an ego-maniac, surely there’s something that you care about that you could monitor on Twitter. Do yourself a favour and download one of the free desktop Twitter clients to help you create persistent Twitter searches so you can keep track of whatever your want without always hitting up the main Twitter search page. We’d recommend checking out TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop.
3. News Updates
4. Instant Communication with Friends
5. Twitter as a Productivity Command Line
6. Ask Questions, Get Answers
We certainly haven’t exhausted all the options, but hopefully this gives you a more balanced look at how Twitter can be useful to you. Of all of these options, Twitter search is far and away the most powerful feature. Got something worthwhile you use Twitter for that we didn’t cover? Let’s hear it in the comments.