In addition to being a social network and a micro-blogging platform, Twitter is being used in a number of unique and unconventional ways. Users are going beyond the 140-character limit and doing more than just sharing news. From creative writing to crime-fighting, the site is host to all sorts of interesting activity that the average user probably doesn’t even realize is going on. There are lots of tricks and new tools that can take the Twitter experience to the next level. Here are a few unconventional uses for Twitter that may help boost your creativity with the platform and engage some new audiences.
Here is our list of the top five cool and atypical ways Twitter is being used:
There are several innovative writers who are using Twitter as a new medium for publishing works of creative fiction. Jennifer Egan wrote a story exclusively for Twitter, and published in collaboration with The New Yorker over the handle @NYerFiction.
Every night at 8 p.m. she would publish a new tweet — the latest development in the story. Readers could “tune-in” for each new chapter, and because Egan controlled the speed at which the story could be read, it built up a unique sense of suspense.
Arjun Basu (@arjunbasu) creates a different type of fiction over the platform. The Montreal native writes “Twisters,” 140-character short stories, that inspire a sense of intrigue often laced with all-too-relatable touch of humor: “The day ends with drinks and storytelling and hearty laughter and proceeds to drunken activities. The following day begins with deep regret.”
The end of the DVD era also meant the loss of director commentaries in that “special features section.” But just as quickly as they disappeared, they were reincarnated in another form: live Twitter commentaries. Directors, actors and public figures have taken to live-commentating popular publicly viewed screenings such as TV show episodes and movie releases.
It’s becoming more common for a TV show’s talent to tweet their thoughts on an episode in which they appear as it airs in real time. Anna Kendrick’s tweets (@annakendrick97) during last year’s live Sound of Music Special by NBC attracted national attention for their humorous observations such as: “Maria is really the Brad Pitt of this relationship #SoooManyChildren #SoundofMusic”
Researcher Dr. Matthew Greber has come up with a method for predicting crime that uses geo-tagged tweets. The program looks at what people talk about and what they do after the fact and then collects data on how they match up.
In order to predict crime, it combs Twitter for language indicators of crime-heavy behavior (drinking, bar hopping, large sporting events). Once data has been gathered on these behaviors, the software maps them out using the Twitter geo-tags to identify potential crime hotspots. So far, the software works better than the current methods in predicting criminal activities such as stalking, criminal damage such as vandalism, and gambling, but is less accurate at predicting crimes like arson, kidnapping and intimidation.
Though the program has not yet been used by any actual police forces, it may well be adopted by some more tech-savvy law enforcement departments soon, as the NYPD has already expressed interest.
Twitter has been hinting at the possibility of launching a some form of e-commerce service with the potential to allow users to purchase products or services directly from tweets. Twitter has already been testing a new ‘Buy Now’ button, but so far this has only appeared on the mobile version.
Amazon also recently announced that you can now shop through the platform. With Amazon you can add items to your cart through Twitter using hashtags. Twitterers can tweet a reply to Amazon product links they see on Twitter with the hashtag #AmazonCart and it will automatically appear in their shopping baskets.
Educators are making use of the massive (and growing) adolescent population on Twitter and incorporating the social network into their lesson plans in clever new ways. One teacher has found a way to coax shy students into participating in class by hosting classroom discussions over the social network using hashtags and projecting students’ tweets in real time on the board at the front of the room. He found this approach eliminated the “stage fright” many students felt at having to stand up or raise their hands to speak in front of their peers.
Other classrooms are using Twitter as a way to continue class conversations outside the classroom after the school day is done. By following these conversations, teachers can continue teaching their students anytime, anywhere and students can continue to discuss and think about topics brought up during class when they get home.
Have you heard of Twitter being used in interesting and unconventional ways? Tell us how!
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Fernando Cuscuela is an experienced entrepreneur who likes nothing better than to start new businesses and make them profitable. Fernando has a background working for international companies including America Online, Cartoon Network and Grupo Infobae. He is the founder and CEO of ‘Everypost’ (http://everypost.me), a social media posting application. Follow him @everypost.
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