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Technology should make our lives easier
• It's simplicity is it's greatest strength
• Great for instant communication & sharing
• Used by celebrities, musicians, politicians and sports stars
• Very few adverts appear
• Trend spotting
• Far too many mundane & pointless comments
• It's reliability isn't great
• Lots of fake celebrity profiles
We are big Twitter fans who see huge potential in the simplicity of the service, but it's unlikely to topple Facebook anytime soon.
If you have a very short attention span and could do without lengthy details, Twitter was made for you. The new social networking phenomenon delivers real-time updates on what people are doing or thinking at any given moment – in 140 characters or less.
The crux of Twitter lies in users following other users to receive updates as they occur. These updates can be made through the web interface, instant messaging or SMS. You can limit who views your posts (aka tweets) to your friends list or have your tweets instantly travel around the globe. Many news organizations and journalists have already harnessed the power of Twitter, enabling them to grab the latest breaking news as it occurs and quickly disseminate the information to their Twitter feed followers.
Unlike Facebook and MySpace, Twitter has forgone the flashy extras such as pictures, movies, music and most customization options. You can upload a twitter profile image and list a few stats to include your location, a short bio, real name and blog or website address – but that’s about it. After the initial set-up, the only changes you can make to your Twitter page are background colors and your latest tweets.
Since millions of twitter users can see your 140 character text answers as soon as you click update, the speed and brevity have led to the site being labeled as a ‘micro-blog’. Therefore, success on the Twitter platform will rely on your ability to be clear, concise and –above all - very brief.
Once you’ve set-up your profile page and posted your first tweet, you can then search through the millions of twitter feeds to find subjects or people that interest you. Without pages to follow and followers to post to, the whole Twitter experience would quickly become dull.
Twitter allows users to join networks and receive all tweets relevant to that group. You can select your network based on your interests – whether that is celebrity gossip or political commentary. This should keep your news feed rolling. In the event that one member of the network sends endless mundane posts, you can unsubscribe from that member’s feed.
Unlike other social networking sites such as Facebook, users do not need your permission to subscribe to your feed if it is public (set as default). Similarly, you can follow any user feed that captures your imagination unless they have restricted access to friends and family. Because of this, Twitter lends itself well to business and organization communication strategies and many use it to keep in contact with their customer base. Celebrities have also found the service useful and Twitter now verifies accounts for famous people to ensure the person tweeting is who they claim to be.
If you want to tweet a specific person, you can enter your message with @username at the beginning. This tells the server that the message is aimed at a particular member. However, this does not mean the message is private.
Twitter has become a bona fide part of pop culture and has generated its own contributions to our language such as tweet, tweetups and tweeps. The popularity can also be measured by the number of celebrity members which include verified music stars, news teams, presidential candidates and emergency services - just to name a few.
You can delete your tweets by clicking on the trash icon or ‘star’ it to add the post to your favorites list. However, you cannot edit tweets once they are posted.
Security & privacy
The popularity of Twitter brings with it some dangers. For example, you could potentially share too much information – just ask Israel Hyman of Arizona who posted his holiday plans in a tweet only to find his house had been burgled in his absence. A little common sense could go a long way to ensure your privacy and security.
Though Twitter has some built-in privacy functions that allow users to restrict access to their posts, by default your tweets and updates are made public.
Twitter’s search functions allow you to search for people, locations and profile content. This means that any term you provide will turn up everyone who has included the term somewhere in their member profile.
Finding friends is simplified by giving Twitter access to your Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, MSN or Google mail contacts lists. These contacts are then cross referenced with the Twitter database and members can then be invited to follow your feed.
Ease of use
What drives Twitter to the top of the social networking sites is its simplicity. Sign up is quick and easy – just add your username, password and email address and you are tweeting within seconds.
After sign-up, you can send off invites to people you know by having the service scan your email contacts to see if any of them are current Twitter members.
Most tasks on Twitter can be accomplished with a single click such as posting tweets, adding friends, updates and comments. The developers clearly thought out their user experience and tailored the service for speed.
Help & support
Twitter provides very thorough online support including a dedicated sections for ‘Troubleshooting’ and ‘Known Issues’ which reports all identified bugs and available updates to correct these. This level of transparency is highly commendable.
If you cannot find the answers you need in their well designed support section, your query can be submitted through an online ticket system and answered on an individual basis.
Twitter has quickly risen to through the ranks to become the most recognized micro-blogging site to date. The simplicity, speed and mass appeal make it a fantastic platform for news agencies and businesses to find and convey information as well as keep in contact with their consumers.
However, trying to capture a thought or event completely within 140 characters can be quite challenging. So, the service may not be suited to those who enjoy recounting every minute detail.
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