Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter web site, via the Twitter web site, short message service (SMS), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific or Facebook.
Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.
What makes Twitter attractive to me, versus other social media, is how simple the concept is and how easy it is to participate. Since tweets cannot be more then 140 characters they’re ideal for posting random thoughts or having wide conversations with potentially dozens or hundreds of other users. No huge commitment for participating is needed. Just a free moment to share a thought.
It can also be a great place to meet and network informally with a wide group of people. I’ve helped people I’ve never communicated with integrate a payment gateway into their website. An even better example is my friend Sara actually communicated with a developer of kayak.com when she twittered about some problems she was having with their site.
If you’re interested in twittering there is a lot of ways to go about it. You can do everything you need directly through the Twitter website. However, serous twitters use third party software which makes twittering more powerful. I currently use the Twitterfox Firefox extension which I recommend. Prior to that I used the Twitterbar extension. Twirl and Snitter are desktop clients that have both been recommended and look very good.
If you’re in front of a computer semi-regularly, or an avid text-messenger as you can twitter though SMS, you should consider checking out Twitter.