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If you are familiar with the Internet at all, then most surely you know about Twitter. Twitter is the most widely used microblogging platform and one of the most renowned social networking websites in the world. However, the difference here is marked by the word “microblogging”, a short message system that is the source of Twitter’s popularity.

Hence, Twitter appeals to the most basic social need of all of us when we interact with each other: Our need to know what the people we care for are doing. And this is exactly the question Twitter users answer every time they post a 140 character-long message on their profile page. The reason for this message length is to keep information flowing and “conversations” active, which makes people feel connected and more involved in each other’s lives.

The system itself if quite easy to use, requiring nothing other than a small message to be written, no video uploading, audio embedding or any other kind of media that can cut the flow of the messages. You can share these as well of course, but it has to be done by linking to them.

The advantages of such a platform are big and clear: The possibility to know as much about what other people are doing in real time. This becomes even more enticing if we consider Twitter is not only available through web browsers, but also through computer instant messaging software, and even mobile phones like Blackberries or the iPhone. This enables people to be in contact with the ones they care for and share their thoughts no matter where they are.

Now, even if this unconventional service started as no more than a way for people to share short messages about their day-to-day lives, it soon became apparent to marketers and small business owners that this way of communicating could be used to their benefit as well. Here are some examples that can give you a basic idea of how Twitter can be applied to any small business or organisation.

Competition: That’s right, Twitter is so widely known nowadays that very likely your competition is already using it. What is more, if you get on board the Twitter wagon you will be able to follow them and keep track of any special promotion or offer that might show up on their Twitter page.

Connecting in new ways: Depending on your kind of business and your target market, most of your current customers might already have a Twitter account. So, by offering them another way to know about your business, you are providing a deeper and more personal experience while projecting a tech-savvy image to them.

Finding new customers: Imagine word of mouth but on a viral level. When your current customers start following you on Twitter, the people they are connected with may also know about you and your business.

Alert customers to new products, services or special sales: With a platform that offers instant communication at all times, it will become second nature for you to alert your customers every time you will hold a special event. Some companies like Dell even offer special coupons only available for their Twitter followers.

To conclude, the Internet era has brought a tremendous variety of products and services like Twitter, which can not only keep us connected with the people we care for, but that can also help our businesses to grow and expand in ways previously not imaginable. It is now our turn to take advantage of these new opportunities and leverage them to grow in our personal or professional lives.