In March 2016, Twitter celebrated its tenth birthday, and announced that it had 310 million monthly active users.
If you’re already one of those millions of regular Twitter users, you’re probably not surprised. You’re likely to already be well aware of the lure that keeps you coming back to scroll through the stream of tweets that make up your own personal Twitter timeline.
However, if Twitter has thus far bypassed you, perhaps you’re wondering why it boasts such a long-term appeal to people.
A user's guide to Twitter
So if you’d like to know exactly what you’re missing, here are five reasons why you should get on Twitter:
Make your opinions heard
I once heard it said that Twitter is like talking to yourself in a crowded room (in fact, I probably read that on a tweet), but sometimes, when you have something to get off your chest, that’s all you need.
I’ve grumbled about the person who nipped into the car parking space I had my eye on, grumbled about my dog pooping in my shoe, grumbled about my long-suffering husband who momentarily ticked me off – and once I’ve got it out my system, I move on.
Of course, you have to be careful what you tweet about – tweet in haste, repent at leisure, as the saying probably doesn’t go.
And sometimes, one of the people who follow me will commiserate, or bestow a ‘Like’ upon my grumpy tweet – and I feel vindicated and validated, and generally much chirpier.
Get speedy customer service
I recently had an issue with some balsamic vinegar going mouldy well before its use-by-date, even though I had stored it at the recommended temperature. In days of yore I would have tutted in annoyance and binned it, writing off the money I’d spent. But I simply took a picture of the mould and the use-by-date and sent it to the supermarket’s Twitter account. Within moments they had responded apologetically and credited my loyalty card account with enough points to buy me a whole new bottle.
I’m sure that had I taken the bottle in to the customer service, they would have done the same thing, but I would have ended up leaving the bottle on the side for a week or two before remembering to actually take it with me on my shopping trip, and it probably would have leaked in the car, and then I would have felt a bit silly asking for £3.50 back.
Conducting the whole thing over Twitter was simple, hassle-free and painless.
And if you are struggling to get a resolution from other avenues of customer service, you’ll find no company wants to publicly let their customers down, so it’s in their interests to sort your issue out as soon as possible when you bring it to a forum as public as Twitter.
How to complain using Twitter
Twitter is a funny place to be
The best part about Twitter, I find, is that whenever I check my timeline, I’m bound to see something that at least makes me smile, and often makes me laugh out loud.
That’s because by following the people who I find funny (comedians, actors, friends), I have been exposed to the people who make them laugh too.
When they’ve laughed at a tweet in their own timeline, they retweet it, and it automatically goes into my timeline. I’ve found so many unsung comedians by accident in this manner that my timeline is now packed with hilarious jokes I can dip in and out of whenever I need a lift.
And whilst I don’t for a moment condone ‘joke theft’ – taking a joke made in a tweet and passing it off as your own is looked upon very dimly by the Twitter community – repeating jokes on Twitter has made me seem a bit funnier too. More than once, I’ve found myself saying ‘I saw a very funny tweet today’ and quoting it to friends and family – whilst it’s not my original thought, they haven’t heard it before, and it makes me seem hilarious. Well, I laugh anyway, and isn’t that the most important thing?
And whilst we’re on the subject of making no one but yourself laugh, do you ever find yourself thinking up a very funny joke that no one else gets, simply because they don’t have the same interests as you? If you find yourself saying things like ‘We should call this bus Godot’ and receiving blank looks, turn to Twitter. You might find exactly the audience you’ve been missing all this time.
Laughter – just what the doctor ordered
Have a brush with fame
A few weeks ago I posted a tweet that mentioned a certain well-knownish Hollywood actor by his Twitter name. It was just a silly comment, but a few days later I checked my notifications and saw he had ‘liked’ it, all the way from across the pond.
It’s probably quite sad to admit, but it made my week, and gave me a conversation starter that I would like to say I used for about a week, but in all honesty, I’m still using it to this day.
Another friend, a huge Star Wars fan, mentioned Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, if you’re wondering) in a tweet and got a ‘like’ from the man himself. You haven’t lived until you see a grown man shed a tear over his smartphone; it’s an image that’s difficult to shake.
Watch your favourite TV shows with a commentary
By using an established hashtag like #BritainsGotTalent , #XFactor or #Strictly, you can settle down to watch your favourite show and read the amusing musings of the people you follow as they tweet along in real time, a little like reading a TV review as it happens.
Sometimes actors from the show will live tweet little nuggets of behind-the-scenes information, giving you a whole new level of enjoyment as you watch the scene unfold on screen.
I like this most when I think something to myself, check Twitter and find I’m not alone in my opinion. I still have a little chuckle to myself from time to time when I remember someone I followed on Twitter commenting that X Factor 2012 winner James Arthur’s (overly emotional, I had thought to myself) performances reminded him of ‘that time on Corrie when Deidre went bonkers on the cobbles’ (I’m paraphrasing, as years of repeating that little gem in conversations has left me with a somewhat garbled version, but you get the gist).
Alternatively, read our TV critic Benjie's television blogs
So, do you think you’ll be getting a Twitter account, or does it still leave you cold? Let us know over on our Facebook page!