PC World - It seems that everyone is atwitter about Twitter. Yes, other microblog services with insufferably cute names, such as Pownce, Jaiku, and Plurk, are around. But Twitter has quickly become the de facto choice for creating really, really short blogs.
Twitter has grown by 600% in the past year, according to co-founder Biz Stone. Aside from telling the world what they're doing every blessed moment, people often use Twitter to drive traffic to Web sites or to promote products and services. But users have begun adapting it for a variety of other tasks -- and before long, you too may be using it for the things in this list. (A list on the next page identifies obstacles that may trip up Twitter. But first, the eight positives.)
1. Blow the Weather Channel Away
Forget rain-soaked reporters in flapping windbreakers. You want real-time updates as the hurricane, tornado or brush fire approaches? Tune in Twitter on your cell phone.
"I like to use the earthquake this summer in Southern California as an example," says Stone. "It struck at 11:42 a.m. That very same minute, the first tweets starting coming in. Nine minutes later, the Associated Press put out a 57-word wire story, but by then we already had 3,600 updates containing the word quake.
2. Find Your Next Job or Employee
When Jackie Peters, founding partner of marketing firm Heavybag Media, was looking for a new social media strategist, she naturally turned to Twitter. "Using Monster.com or Craigslist would have generated a stack of résumés from unqualified candidates," she says. "I figured if the candidate wasn't on Twitter, they most likely weren't right for the job."
It can help people seeking work as well. Stephanie Martin's quest for a job started with searching Twitter for people in her field (public relations) and in her target market (Phoenix). She began following the head of public relations for her alma mater, Northern Arizona University. Soon, she was following -- and being followed by -- some of the top PR agencies in the area and then flying to Phoenix for interviews. "The hardest part was explaining how I knew the person who'd arranged the interviews," Martin says. "Because I'd never met or spoken to him; we just tweeted."
3. Ditch Google -- for Some Things
"Twitter has displaced Google for some kinds of searches," says Jonathan Yarmis, who tracks emerging technologies at AMR Research Inc.. "Sometimes Google results are good, and sometimes they're funky. When I put a query out on Twitter, I instantly get back two or three contextually relevant answers."
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