PCWorld (USA)

3 practical reasons to use Twitter

This social media service isn’t just for shouting into the void.

- BY ALAINA YEE

Twitter’s reputation for being a place flooded with memes, hot takes, and abundant photos of meals isn’t unfounded. But there’s still a use for Twitter even if you don’t love arguing with internet strangers or wading through endless jokes. In fact, it can save you time and headache when used judiciousl­y. Here’s how.

1. BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE

Few things irritate (or spark full-on rage) as much as shoddy customer service. When chat or phone isn’t connecting you to anyone who can help, try Twitter instead.

All kinds of businesses are easy to reach via Twitter, including banks and some

utilities. You should first check a company’s tweets and replies to see if it responds to customer inquiries (and how quickly), but these days most companies do. Some even have dedicated Twitter accounts for customer service.

Seeking customer support in this manner has two benefits: First, you’ll save time. You can fire off an @ reply or a direct message to the company, then go about your life as you wait to hear back. Generally responses are fairly quick. The human on the other end will often use direct language that addresses your concern, too, rather than following a script.

Also, Twitter-based support teams often have more leeway when helping with a problem. Even if you’ve already given the phone system or online chat a shot, reaching out over Twitter may resolve your issue more fully.

One note on security and privacy: For some businesses (like airlines, cell phone companies, and banks), you may be asked to confirm your identity by verifying account details over direct message. As always, treat that informatio­n with care—you’re not obligated to share anything that makes you uncomforta­ble. If that prevents the rep from helping you further, ask for a more direct phone service line, or if you have a complicate­d issue, a method to contact higher tiers of support.

2. NEWS UPDATES

Twitter is a great tool for staying up to date— and not just with breaking news, but daily

commute info, advances in fields or topics that interest you, and public figures.

A fine line does exist between speculatio­n and actual news, so choose the accounts you follow wisely. Local news agencies are a great place to start, as they provide updates on your area while also passing on the hottest national news. You can follow several outlets to get the kind of coverage you seek. Even radio stations have a Twitter presence—for example, KCBS, one of the SF Bay Area’s best sources for regular updates on traffic and public transit, tweets out its valuable alerts ( fave.co/3wkkzre).

Of course, you can hear the latest straight from the horse’s mouth on Twitter, too. Continuing with the news and commute theme in California, our state’s highway patrol posts informatio­n about traffic conditions, with specific accounts for different regions ( fave.co/3frrhcl).

When choosing accounts to follow, make sure you have the official account by looking for a verified mark next to the name. (It’s a small checkmark inside a circle with scalloped edges.) Parody and duplicate accounts sometimes exist, so looking for that symbol ensures you’ve got the right agency or person, especially if you start keeping up with individual­s like reporters and notable figures in science or medicine.

3. BARGAIN HUNTING

Many resources exist for finding the lowest prices on goods and gear—websites, forums, email newsletter­s, Reddit, Discord, and more—and you can include Twitter on that list, too.

All kinds of accounts are dedicated to spotting and passing on deals to the public. The platform aggregates a variety of sources: deal websites staffed by dozens of people, crowdsourc­ed deal sites, individual­s who always have the inside scoop. They’re all gathered in this one spot. Businesses sometimes also advertise coupon codes and special promos through their Twitter accounts, too.

The best strategy for deal hunting on Twitter is to stay organized. At minimum, make use of Twitter Lists ( fave.co/39nfnjh), so that you’re not blasted by a firehose of nonstop informatio­n. Pair that with Tweetdeck ( fave.co/37iu4z8), a desktop-based interface that lets you see multiple lists at one time,

and you’ll be able to skim through the informatio­n much more easily.

You can also enable push notificati­ons for select accounts if you want immediate notice of every tweet (aka bargain), but that can get spammy—this strategy is best paired with a service like IFTTT, which you can use to filter for keywords and push only tweets that match those terms to you.

BONUS: TIPS FOR A BETTER TWITTER EXPERIENCE Twitter Lists and Tweetdeck

As touched on in the bargain hunting discussion, you can avoid informatio­n overload when you’re using Twitter through a couple of the service’s features: Twitter Lists ( fave.co/39nfnjh) and Tweetdeck ( fave.co/37iu4z8).

Twitter Lists allow you to group select accounts together for a curated view. You can have as many (or as few) accounts on a list as you like—and you can throw them together completely at will. If you want to make “tech reporters who cover CPUS and also share funny cat memes” a thing, you can have at it.

Tweetdeck then makes it possible to view multiple lists at the same time. This desktop interface, available via browser or a macos app, lets you add lists and sort them in any order. You can then take in at a glance many different tweets at once, which makes it easier to skim for noteworthy ones.

Push notificati­ons

For select accounts that don’t tweet often—or who constantly tweet info you want to stay on top of—you can enable push notificati­ons just for those accounts. First enable push notificati­ons in your Twitter account settings, then go to the account you want them for and click on the bell icon. You don’t have to follow an account to get notificati­ons of its tweets.

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 ?? ?? Check a company’s tweets and replies to see if it has an active presence on Twitter— and how attentive the responses seem to be.
Check a company’s tweets and replies to see if it has an active presence on Twitter— and how attentive the responses seem to be.
 ?? ?? Your area likely has an equivalent source for traffic and public transit updates.
Your area likely has an equivalent source for traffic and public transit updates.
 ?? ?? Some people make it their livelihood to help you find the best deals and hard-toget items.
For example, Wario64 is an excellent source for
PS5 and
Xbox console availabili­ty.
Some people make it their livelihood to help you find the best deals and hard-toget items. For example, Wario64 is an excellent source for PS5 and Xbox console availabili­ty.
 ?? ?? A small sample of what Tweetdeck can look like when populated with your Twitter Lists.
A small sample of what Tweetdeck can look like when populated with your Twitter Lists.

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