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TwitterSquareAmerica’s Library of Congress recently announced it intends to index the entirety of Twitter‘s archive. This is a massive undertaking, as every day there are in excess of 20 million messages sent out on Twitter.

Even if you never intend to send out a message of 140 characters or less you have to admit Twitter is a powerful cultural phenomenon. It’s already fueled at least one revolution.

Having said that, it’s understandable that many don’t understand what all the fuss is about: isn’t it just another social network?

Yes and no.


Twitter can be used as a social network, but there are also other creative uses for Twitter – such as a search engine, a local event planner or a newspaper. And you don’t need an active Twitter account to take advantage of those uses.

Let’s take a look at a few creative uses for Twitter for those who think Twitter is useless.

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Real-Time Search Engine

In the summer of 2006 I worked as a carpet cleaner at Calvin College, where I attended university. The school has a different vibe during the summer, as it’s mostly international students who stay behind and work while American students go home to their families. I mention this only because on Thursday, June 26 a curious thing happened just outside my window: every single Ghanaian I knew was sprinting across the yard of the apartment complex with a flag behind them.

Why? As it turns out, the Ghanaian football team had just defeated team USA in the World Cup. I found out about this a day later when I asked my friends why they were celebrating. Were this to happen today however, I’d simply do a quick Twitter search for Ghana and immediately find out what happened.

Which brings me to perhaps the biggest use Twitter has for people who think Twitter is useless: real-time search. If something is happening somewhere in the world, you can be sure someone is talking about it on Twitter. This power cannot be underestimated.

For example, this year the World Cup is set to take place in South Africa. A quick search for “worldcup” on Twitter reveals all sorts of conversation happening:

creative uses for twitter

This can be very useful if there’s a certain subject you like to keep up on, and you do not need a Twitter account to run a search. Simply go to Twitter Search and enter any subject you like.

If you want a little more depth on this subject, check out Nancy’s recent article about websites that show you the hottest Twitter topics now. 10 More Websites To Show You The Hottest Twitter Topics Now 10 More Websites To Show You The Hottest Twitter Topics Now Read More

What’s Happening In Your Town?

On a related note, Twitter is a great way to find out what’s happening in your town right now. I regularly search for my home – Boulder, Colorado – and usually find out a lot about what’s going on around town.

creative uses for twitter

Twitter is particularly active in Boulder, because of the university here in town and the sheer number of tech startups, so there’s always something new to discover in this way. But I’m sure if you search for your town, wherever you are, you’ll find at least a few fun and interesting things.

You’ll also find a lot of spam, sadly, but you will get used to skimming over that and finding the good stuff.

RSS Feeds

I’m by far your favorite writer on this site. I’m smart, attractive and extremely humble. As such, you want to know about every article I write. You can do that by watching my Twitter page.

My own vanity aside, Twitter RSS feeds are a great way to follow an individual writer’s work regardless of the site they post it on. Just head over to anyone’s Twitter page where you’ll find an RSS icon in the right column:

creative uses for twitter

Do this and you’ll be able to watch the online activities of anyone without ever creating a Twitter account. RSS feeds can plug into Firefox, Google Reader and an endless number of other apps!

Boxee

I try to mention Boxee Boxee Beta - The Best Media Center App for Your TV Boxee Beta - The Best Media Center App for Your TV Read More whenever possible, and it just so happens that it recently integrated Twitter feeds. Create a Twitter account, follow your favorite video creators and any new videos they make will show up in the left column of your Boxee homepage.

I started following Autotune The News specifically so I’d find out about new videos in Boxee; recommend any feeds worth following in the comments below.

Conclusion

There you have it: four uses for Twitter for people who think Twitter is useless. I’m by no means the definitive expert on the topic, and I’m sure you all can think of many more ideas for making use of Twitter. Inform your fellow readers about these uses in the comments below!

  1. Rory Hammond
    October 7, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    I have tried Twitter and have had no results to speak of. I just terminated an account for the third time in a year. Twitter to me seems to be an application searching for a need to fill.

  2. Dr_smeth202
    July 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

    I'm wondering if you know anything about 'intergrated twitter feeds'. I saw one on the youtube streaming of a U2 concert, where 'fans were able to chat with each other as they watched, using an integrated Twitter feed.' You can see a picture of what I mean in this article (http://www.wired.com/epicenter... it just basically let the tweets show up on the right hand side of the page. Any tips?
    Thanks!

  3. Dr_smeth202
    July 19, 2010 at 6:19 am

    I'm wondering if you know anything about 'intergrated twitter feeds'. I saw one on the youtube streaming of a U2 concert, where 'fans were able to chat with each other as they watched, using an integrated Twitter feed.' You can see a picture of what I mean in this article (http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/10/u2-will-play-free-concert-on-youtube/), it just basically let the tweets show up on the right hand side of the page. Any tips?
    Thanks!

  4. dman977
    June 26, 2010 at 12:38 am

    I get annoyed enough at trying to read most 140 character text messages I receive. Words formed without vowels are what annoy me the most. I have enough trouble filtering through all the crap on the internet without having to keep up with yet another website with the most random information.

    Also, if I want to know what is going on in town, I will ask friends. Not by sitting at home on my computer, but by actually meeting face-to-face to have an actual social interaction. Facebook is sometimes useful for me in that I can keep up with birthdays, and when people that I don't see very often are in town.

    GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSES PEOPLE!! SOCIAL NETWORKING CAN BE DONE BY ACTUALLY GOING OUT TO BE SOCIAL!!

  5. dman977
    June 25, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    I get annoyed enough at trying to read most 140 character text messages I receive. Words formed without vowels are what annoy me the most. I have enough trouble filtering through all the crap on the internet without having to keep up with yet another website with the most random information.

    Also, if I want to know what is going on in town, I will ask friends. Not by sitting at home on my computer, but by actually meeting face-to-face to have an actual social interaction. Facebook is sometimes useful for me in that I can keep up with birthdays, and when people that I don't see very often are in town.

    GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSES PEOPLE!! SOCIAL NETWORKING CAN BE DONE BY ACTUALLY GOING OUT TO BE SOCIAL!!

  6. TechGyo
    June 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Yeah, many people don't know what is twitter used for

  7. Giodamelio
    June 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    You should check out tweetmypc.
    you use it to control your computer through your twitter.

  8. Giodamelio
    June 5, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    You should check out tweetmypc.
    you use it to control your computer through your twitter.

  9. Anonymous
    June 4, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Well, I am still not convinced. lol. I have tried using it to drive traffic to my site but it is not all that effective. I never go to twitter to find news either. IMHO twitter is used by mostly spammers.

  10. roswello
    June 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    i use it to win stuff lol

  11. jhpot
    June 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Very creative; I like it. Good way to instantly alert your students what's going on.

    Also, it's good to know people right here in Colorado read MakeUseOf. Cheers!

  12. jhpot
    June 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    You can't feel bad every time someone on the Internet disagrees with you. You'd go crazy. Plus, all the points you made are perfectly valid.

    I don't really like Facebook, and won't be writing that article. Like half the Internet, I'm seriously thinking of giving Facebook up completely. As a Linux person I like the idea of one tool that does one thing well--ie Twitter for statuses, Picasa for pictures, YouTube for videos--instead of one Microsoft-style behemoth--ie Facebook for everything.

  13. FekketCantenel
    June 4, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I'm really glad that I didn't hurt your feelings or anything; when it comes to social media, most people think I'm a party-pooper.

    Still looking forward to the Facebook version of this article.

  14. jhpot
    June 4, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Those are all excellent points, and I thank you for making them. The whole point of this site, MakeUseOf, is helping people find cool websites for particular purposes, and I'd certainly never assert that one site is the end-all destination for all things. I'm really happy you have websites that you like to use and find useful for these purposes, and only intended to point these things out to people who /didn't/ have such sites worked out and may find such functions of Twitter useful. Sorry if I got your hopes up in the process.

    Your criticism of Twitter indeed has merits; I merely hoped to point out potential bright sides. I'm working on the personal blog thing; thanks for the advice.

  15. Anatomy of Online Business
    June 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Showing real time information is one of the best use of Twitter that makes people to think it is useful. Also, it helps to stay tuned with your friends, helps to build a network around your business and its a new age marketing tool !

  16. Larry Sessions
    June 3, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I use Twitter for all my classes -- using it to post announcements for students, as well as alert lists for astronomical observations: see ast1040 and NASkies. I'm just down the road from you in Denver. Here is a class site with Twitter integrated into it:
    http://www.mscd.edu/physics/as...

  17. Larry Sessions
    June 3, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I use Twitter for all my classes -- using it to post announcements for students, as well as alert lists for astronomical observations: see ast1040 and NASkies. I'm just down the road from you in Denver. Here is a class site with Twitter integrated into it:
    http://www.mscd.edu/physics/astro/Welcome.html

    • jhpot
      June 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

      Very creative; I like it. Good way to instantly alert your students what's going on.

      Also, it's good to know people right here in Colorado read MakeUseOf. Cheers!

      • Larry Sessions
        June 4, 2010 at 4:02 pm

        It is simply the easiest way to do it -- easier even than email or RSS (which twitter is, I guess, but doesn't require a separate reader. There are other options, of course, but Twitter is fast and simple. I'm not in it to win a gazillion followers -- in fact I would like to find ways to have people check, but actually PREVENT them from following! (I don't want to make it private, though.) If there is such a way, I haven't found it. And I agree on FB. I use it, but it is good basically only to keep up with friends -- anything outside of that and it gets overwhelming and useless for anything but blabber and spam.

  18. FekketCantenel
    June 3, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    *rolls eyes* The title had me intrigued because I've never found a use for Twitter and think participation is almost entirely mindless. I'm disappointed that you didn't come up with anything that can't be handled easily by a different, better service:

    Real-time news updates: Google News, which carries coherent, fact-filled articles, not one-sentence brain-farts.

    Local events: I'm lucky enough to have the Fayetteville Flyer for my city, which lists just about every event and all kinds of local news. I'm sure most towns have a site like this; those that don't probably don't have many people on the internet/Twitter.

    RSS Feeds: Huh. You know, I go to your MUO profile page and there's a link to your author feed on the site. Besides that, say that I did indeed want to track your activity across the web. It'd be nice if you had a blog centralizing your activity. Yes, it requires a little more effort than just signing up for Twitter, but if you're going to be an internet writer, I'd hope you have the time to put together your own website, even if it's on a provider like WordPress.com or Blogger. That way, you can also post your resume, list projects you're working on, and install half-useless but fun plugins.

    Boxee: Why would you base an entire quarter of your article on a barely-developed, barely-used media player program? I only use it because it's less buggy than XBMC and therefore better for watching TV shows/movies. Why watch RSS feeds in it as opposed to in your browser (simpler)? (That said, if Boxee integrated ReadItLater, I'd probably watch a lot more internet videos in it.)

    So there you have it, four services that easily take the place of Twitter. Better luck next time.

    P.S. You should post '4 Non-Stupid Uses for Facebook for People Who Refuse to Use It'. That's another one that you can try to convince me on.

  19. FekketCantenel
    June 3, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    *rolls eyes* The title had me intrigued because I've never found a use for Twitter and think participation is almost entirely mindless. I'm disappointed that you didn't come up with anything that can't be handled easily by a different, better service:

    Real-time news updates: Google News, which carries coherent, fact-filled articles, not one-sentence brain-farts.

    Local events: I'm lucky enough to have the Fayetteville Flyer for my city, which lists just about every event and all kinds of local news. I'm sure most towns have a site like this; those that don't probably don't have many people on the internet/Twitter.

    RSS Feeds: Huh. You know, I go to your MUO profile page and there's a link to your author feed on the site. Besides that, say that I did indeed want to track your activity across the web. It'd be nice if you had a blog centralizing your activity. Yes, it requires a little more effort than just signing up for Twitter, but if you're going to be an internet writer, I'd hope you have the time to put together your own website, even if it's on a provider like WordPress.com or Blogger. That way, you can also post your resume, list projects you're working on, and install half-useless but fun plugins.

    Boxee: Why would you base an entire quarter of your article on a barely-developed, barely-used media player program? I only use it because it's less buggy than XBMC and therefore better for watching TV shows/movies. Why watch RSS feeds in it as opposed to in your browser (simpler)? (That said, if Boxee integrated ReadItLater, I'd probably watch a lot more internet videos in it.)

    So there you have it, four services that easily take the place of Twitter. Better luck next time.

    P.S. You should post '4 Non-Stupid Uses for Facebook for People Who Refuse to Use It'. That's another one that you can try to convince me on.

    • jhpot
      June 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm

      Those are all excellent points, and I thank you for making them. The whole point of this site, MakeUseOf, is helping people find cool websites for particular purposes, and I'd certainly never assert that one site is the end-all destination for all things. I'm really happy you have websites that you like to use and find useful for these purposes, and only intended to point these things out to people who /didn't/ have such sites worked out and may find such functions of Twitter useful. Sorry if I got your hopes up in the process.

      Your criticism of Twitter indeed has merits; I merely hoped to point out potential bright sides. I'm working on the personal blog thing; thanks for the advice.

      • FekketCantenel
        June 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm

        I'm really glad that I didn't hurt your feelings or anything; when it comes to social media, most people think I'm a party-pooper.

        Still looking forward to the Facebook version of this article.

        • jhpot
          June 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

          You can't feel bad every time someone on the Internet disagrees with you. You'd go crazy. Plus, all the points you made are perfectly valid.

          I don't really like Facebook, and won't be writing that article. Like half the Internet, I'm seriously thinking of giving Facebook up completely. As a Linux person I like the idea of one tool that does one thing well--ie Twitter for statuses, Picasa for pictures, YouTube for videos--instead of one Microsoft-style behemoth--ie Facebook for everything.

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