What is Twitter used for?

Twitter is an online social media and social networking service owned and operated by American company Twitter, Inc. on which users send and respond publicly or privately texts, images and videos known as "tweets". Registered users can tweet, like, 'retweet' tweets and direct messages (DMs), while unregistered users only have the ability to view public tweets.

Twitter's main purpose is to connect people and allow them to share their thoughts with a large audience. Twitter allows users to discover the stories of today's biggest news and events, follow people who post content they like, or just connect with friends. In addition, PR teams and marketers can use Twitter to increase brand awareness and also to delight their audience.

For marketers

Twitter can be a very useful platform for marketers to follow them and provide valuable content before they become customers. Character limits can also help marketers create quick and compelling ads, such as promotions for webinars their business is conducting or free e-books.

Be sure to note that marketers can use Twitter to advertise products or services, but should use it with caution. As with any social media marketing strategy, the main focus should be on engaging your audience with useful content and increasing brand awareness.

In addition, marketers can use Twitter to connect with their audience in a personalized and meaningful way. If someone mentions their product or service, they can "like" or "retweet" their comment. Or, if a customer complains about their service on Twitter, they can reach out to rectify the situation in real time.

To learn more about how to use Twitter for marketing purposes, see How to use Twitter for marketing and PR.

As a form of amateur journalism

Twitter is often used to quickly spread breaking news. Sometimes it is even faster than traditional media in spreading breaking information.

As a reporter, you can attract a large number of followers by tweeting short descriptions to alert your audience to everyday events.

In addition, many celebrities, athletes and politicians choose to post directly to Twitter when they want to share information with their followers, rather than speaking through media outlets. So when you're looking for insider information or direct quotes, Twitter is often a useful avenue for posts.

Of course, there are dangers to using Twitter as a primary source of news. The limited number of characters causes Twitter users to spread more one-sided information than they can provide the full story. If you're a reporter, it's best to use Twitter to post short snapshots of large events, but if you don't have the text space to back it up, avoid offering controversial opinions.

For PR teams

People who work in PR may want to consider using Twitter to post announcements about their clients. For example, they can post tweets about the release date of a client's product or an upcoming event.

Twitter can also help them quickly find out what their client's competitors are talking about to ensure that their clients are up to date on the latest industry trends and to engage in a broader conversation. And Twitter allows connections to professionals or influencers who may be interested in working with their clients.

For individuals

Individuals can use Twitter for entertainment purposes or to keep in touch with friends and family. In its most basic form, Twitter is similar to sending a 140-character group text to everyone you know. You can use it to share a funny story, post a compelling video, or ask your audience a question.