In just a few short months, the social networking and micro-blogging site Twitter went from relative obscurity to being an international phenomenon. “Twitting” is no a household name in many places of the world. Yet still, few people understand both the importance and potential of this simple service. To understand the great overall importance, however, it is important to understand first just how exactly Twitter works.

First, Twitter starts with its users. Users register to the site and create profiles. From there, users are able to post and read messages known as “tweets,” which are text-based posts of up to one hundred and forty characters. The audience for each message can be customized by the author of each message, with the audience being as limited to other individuals or to a broad, open-access audience. There are currently tens of millions of Twitter accounts, and the service remains open and free of charge. Users can access Twitter from their PC or via their mobile device and phones. And further, the content of each tweet can range from simple personal messages to business and product related message. And herein the importance and grand potential of Twitter is contained.

As Twitter grows, businesses and professionals ranging from independent contractors to international corporations will use Twitter as both a quick and easy way to communicate with the general public or with a specific, target audience. In fact, Twitter is already developing into a platform through which businesses and professionals can build their brand, perform market research, reveal precise information to customers as well as create additional social networking communities for existing and potential customers.

There are a number of ways in which Twitter is already serving these businesses and professionals. The first of which is what is called “hyper-local marketing.” This refers to the practice of small businesses, independent contractors and even local outlets of major retailers to advertise special promotions and other important information to customers in the area. The second involves marketing research, with Twitter functioning as a tool to measure consumer exposure to local and national marketing efforts.

The next areas that Twitter has potential in are stock and public financial discussions. Traditionally, message boards and other more complicated social networking sites serves as a platform for these discussions. However, Twitter’s focus on concise information and the way through which users network with one another offer it great potential for these sorts of discussions. In fact, Twitter has potential in all sorts of other areas of information, such as political and social movement activities.

News and emergency information are another area in which Twitter has a lot of potential. In fact, the news media outlets have already begun using Twitter as a way to alert users of breaking news, story updates and upcoming segments. Government agencies also seem on the verge of experimenting with Twitter for these types of activities, or for related activities. Emergency notices through Twitter’s service may seem like a great probability already, but other uses will surely be considered as the service expands and develops. Essentially, Twitter is an evolving and developing tool with a lot of current and theoretical applications, and it will be important to keep an eye on its possibilities. And to be part of the action, you may also want to consider signing up and begin tweeting, too!

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