If you’re not on Twitter yet, I recommend that you stop reading this article and sign up for a Twitter account. Twitter is a microblogging platform, where you’re limited to updates of 140 characters. You broadcast these short messages to your “followers” (the equivalent of a friend or connection), who can be friends, coworkers, peers in your industry, or even celebrities, politicians, and other public figures.
If you need to be convinced, here are the top 12 reasons to be on Twitter:
1. Mingle with the influential
I never would have talked about houseplants with the CEO of Zappos.com if it wasn’t for Twitter. It’s a great place to connect with CEOs, top bloggers, and even celebrities. It takes a bit of effort (and having a decent following yourself doesn’t hurt) to get replies, direct messages, and better yet follows from the most-followed individuals, but by following them you can keep up to on what these individuals are reading and talking about.
2. Promote your content
Once you establish a following, you can tweet (post a message) updates/new posts on twitter and are very likely to get clicks. I’ve found that my click-through rate on Twitter is pretty decent, and if you post about something viral in nature, people might retweet (repost your message), exposing your link to all of their followers as well. Use a service like snipurl to track how many clicks your tweet links are getting.
3. Stay aware of hot topics
To keep in touch with what’s hot, whether it’s celebrity gossip or industry buzz, follow people with similar interests as you and industry professionals. You can find them using search tools like Twellow. The people with the most followers are the ones who will probably have the most interesting links and news to share. You can also see which twitter topics generate the most discussion by browsing Twitter Search.
4. Direct traffic
Twitter can be used to bring attention to a new product, a friend’s post, a book you loved, a hilarious YouTube video, and so on. Even if you need votes or are trying to get votes for something, post the link and ask nicely, and your followers will vote if they agree with you.
5. Update from anywhere
Twitter is something you can carry with you wherever you go. If you see something weird on the street, an advertisement that impressed you, want to report a severe traffic jam, whatever, wherever, you can tweet it right from your cell phone. Just set up your SMS Twitter number to text your tweet, so you don’t even have to use the internet. You can also choose to receive texts when your tweeple tweet or DM you, but if you have a ton of contacts you might want to stay away notifications.
6. Forces you to be a better writer
The 140 character limit forces you to be concise. Brevity makes it easy to absorb a message. That’s why you rarely see taglines longer than 5-8 words. After a month of using Twitter, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to fit an entire stream of thought into two lines of text.
7. Helps build web presence
Being on Twitter will help you built your network and establish trust amongst your followers. You’ll gain exposure for yourself, you blog, and your website. To really succeed at building your web presence, I recommend customizing your Twitter background (I’ll be adding free templates and backgrounds here soon!).
8. Real-time updates, rapid responses
On Twitter, you can reach out to your followers immediately. And if you have a question, just ask it, and many times you’ll get a quick response. I love getting quick opinions and recommendations from my followers, and many people on Twitter tend to go out of their way to research something for you. If this happens, be sure to return the favor.
9. Twitter’s there in case of emergency
When the terrorist attacks hit Mumbai, the news spread on Twitter before it even hit CNN. There was another situation where a student Twittered his way out of an Egyptian jail. These scenario might be extreme, but Twitter is a way to reach tons of people fast, especially if you’ve established a large following and it’s retweeted. In case of emergency, your followers will be there for you, as strange as that might sound.
10. Time management tool
I wouldn’t recommend just using your Twitter as a to-do list because your followers will quickly get bored with you. But if you’re on a tight schedule, Twitter about it and encourage your followers to get on your case if you haven’t finished by your deadline. It’ll be motivating to get your stuff done if you can show off to your followers that you met your goal.
11. It’s downright fun
Twitter’s fun, which is as good a reason as any to join. You can see a new side of your friends, share interesting articles and videos, and learn some really cool stuff. And it’s fun to tweet back and forth, and see people retweet your tweets.
12. Not too time-consuming
It takes less time to post a link on Twitter than it does to bookmark it on StumbleUpon or Digg. It also takes less time to build a meaningful network. And because of the 140 word limit, you’re not pressured to write a lot (like you would when blogging), and it won’t take too long to read through the latest Tweets. If you become obsessed (like many people do), then Twitter can become time consuming. But it’s easy and fast to become active on Twitter.