Twitter Takes Web by Storm

is surging on the Web, yet many savvy people still haven't heard of it. A-List bloggers, thousands of tech-enthusiasts - even some presidential candidates are using Twitter. So what is it and why should you care?

Simply put, Twitter is a social Web service that also works with your mobile phone via text messaging. The heart and soul of this service revolves around the very casual question, What are you doing? Answers typically involve the seeming trivialities of every day life such as Eating a burger, At the office or Grabbing drinks with friends. Once posted, these responses can then be read by others. Some have deemed this new communication style as "micro-blogging," mostly because responses are limited to 140 characters.

You may still ask yourself why you would care about random people eating burgers or grabbing drinks. Since it's a social service I figured I'd let the users speak for themselves.

Using a network built with Twitter, I asked for some feedback from my "followers" - Twitter-speak for people that read my posts. Here's what they said.

When asked about professional uses for Twitter:

"It's been a great networking tool for me. I've made connections that I don't think I would have made otherwise. I also think it's a great self-promotional tool if used in moderation."
    - Bleu Caldwell, Graphic Designer. 

"I've used Twitter professionally from the start. It's been a way to find other people working on Web stuff in close proximity to me. I've received real-time information about conferences, made introductions in other cities, helped people find a place to eat, and otherwise been useful.
    - Edward Vielmetti, Director of Social Media for Pure Visibility

"It is a great way to broadcast quick messages to interested parties, while being really aware of the value of their time and attention. It is also a great smartmob tool, enabling us to act as paramedia in the way that you sent the Tweet to get feedback on this article.
    - Chris Heuer,

"I'm already using it to garner comments for my podcast. And since I believe that networking is professional work, keeping my friends and associates updated is always good professionally.
    - Heidi Miller, Trade Show Spokesperson/Product Presentation Specialist

"I think it can be used as a more convenient messenger service in an office so you don't have to bother someone unless they want to be bothered.
    - Kristen, Paralegal

When asked about the increasing popularity of Twitter:

"Twitter is so popular because it is so accessible from anywhere you're at. There are multiple ways to post, along with multiple ways to receive and read tweets. You don't HAVE to visit to use the site.
    - Kristin, Freelance Designer/Photographer

"I think Twitter presents an opportunity to stay connected in our continually more disconnected society. Things move so fast that we don't have time to tell the people we care about what were up to. At the end of the day it turns into "I went to work." With twitter, they can read things as they happen
    - Jeremy (aka Spifferiferfied), Web Developer

"Twitter itself may be a fad and may eventually be replaced or expanded upon with another application, but I think the instant communication trend is here to stay.
    - Bleu Caldwell, Graphic Designer

"I think there's also an underlying psychological need to relieve stress, which sending a tweet does I believe.
    - Mark Smithivas, Wireless artist and Parent 2.0

When asked about unique ways to utilize Twitter:

"I'm considering ditching my RSS reader and utilizing twitterfeed to create my own "rss twitter account" to follow with my regular account, so I can keep up with news for sites that don't hold their own twitter account.
    - Kristin, Freelance Designer/Photographer

"I'm surprised how relatively few people use it on Jabber with the Google Mobile Talk for Blackberry - that makes mobile Twitter free, no need to pay SMS charges.
    - Edward Vielmetti, Director of Social Media for Pure Visibility

"Fox's new TV show, Drive, sent out an email saying that the director was going to be Twittering his commentary of the season opener live.
    - Heidi Miller, Trade Show Spokesperson / Product Presentation Specialist

Rick Murray, President of Edelman's Me2Revolution group, also offered some thoughts on Twitter. In terms of professional opportunities he said Edelman was "...testing a couple as we speak," but cautioned that "...what remains to be seen is how the community responds to the effort." And when asked about long term popularity for the service he felt it "...will ultimately be directly tied to making it easier to form and/or join micro-communities tied to one's personal interests."

Whether Twitter is leading the way for the next stage of Webolution or just a passing fad there is an underlying beauty in the concept. The simplicity in how it connects people, the ability to be easily expanded upon and the fact that it can be accessed by almost any Web-ready or mobile device make it a true communications 2.0 service worthy of notice.

If you are interested in reading the original, unedited responses they can be found on the author's blog here

Do you use Twitter? Love it? Hate it? We'd love to here what you think. Register now to comment!

Contributing author John Fitzsimmons is a Google Certified Search Marketing Manager and Web 2.0 Advocate. Read more of his thoughts at