The great thing about Twitter is that it has the potential to solve real time problems extremely quickly. With a host of people available online at a particular moment, you can use it to get help on a multitude of levels.
This real time capability has helped establish Twitter as a ‘help engine’ and the twittersphere is awash with stories of how Twitter has helped its users. Guy Kawasaki has had a laptop cable hand delivered by a fellow Twitter user – Matt Perez has used it to test different versions of a website on various mobile devices. It has even had more humanitarian benefits helping to prevent death threats at a school. It has even proven it’s worth through live tweeting at conferences, when a speaker became ill, and people rushed to help.
Many of us are now turning to Twitter as the first place to get an answer or help on a potential problem, its alot quicker than waiting for a reply on a message board. So, if you decide that the Twittersphere is the place you want to ask questions and get help, what are the services and sites you should be following on Twitter?
Jason Calacanis, and the team of Mahalo have jumped in quickly on the real time potential of Twitter and registered the ‘answers’ Twitter account, something you would have expected Yahoo Answers to do. Essentially what they are doing is providing an additional interface to the Mahalo site, via Twitter, then letting you know when someone answers the question. Maybe not just as realtime as some of the other services listed here, but useful nonetheless.
Justin Rockwell has found a niche. He now makes about $350 a week scouring Twitter for people tweeting about their problems building Web pages. Using the Twitter ID ThatCSSGuy , he offers to help solve their problems and asks for a tip in return, building both brand exposure for himself and offering a useful service. Follow him if you are in any way involved with web development, and in need of CSS or HTML answers
Twittez is a very simple web application that crowd sources for you by looking for the text “does anyone know?” within your tweets. In my opinion this is a very clever way to introduce new users to their service, and gain traction by integrating seamlessly with the Twittersphere.
Twecipe is the Twitter counterpart of lookandtaste.com . It’s great in that it actually allows Twitter users to tweet at it, and receive recipes back. Genius. If you have a few random bits and pieces around your kitchen and need to cook up a simple recipe, Twecipe is the bot to follow. Well actually, describing Twecipe as a bot is a bit inaccurate. That particular tweet gave me a chuckle a while back.
LazyTweet works right from within Twitter. Just #hashtag your question with the term #lazytweet, and it picks up on it, and resyndicates both via its website and via the Twitter account LazyTweet. Followers of LazyTweet can then visit the website, and either offer an answer via Twitter, or via the comment box on their site.
Another genius little application that allows users to perform market research – at little or no cost. Major brands like EMI are using it to work out how their marketing spend is working out. Now that’s clever Web2.0 marketing. Create your poll on the site, and post on Twitter for your following to vote on. New polls appear syndicated on the website at twtpoll.com – which gives you particular poll question that extra bit of exposure.
Similar to how Mahalo works, toAnswer posts your questions for other users to answer, then alerts you when an answer is forthcoming. They have two twitter accounts setup, one for the answers, and one for questions. To Ask a question follow toask – and post an @ message to it. To answer someone else’s question simply follow toanswer then post the [questionId]. Both questions and answers are syndicated on the toAnswer website.
WhoisHosting have come up with a brilliant way of boosting their public profile via Twitter. Basically their twitter bot allows you to find out which webhost is hosting a website. Want to know where Twitip.com is hosted? No problem. Simply send a direct message to the Twitterbot, which will reply with the details.
Put together by a lone developer, @le_punk – twAnswers allows posting of a question both through the website at twAnswers, and via the twitter account askthat. It works in much the same way as toanswer, however it features the latest contributors in a sidebar, providing further exposure of it’s users, and thus giving back to the community.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic. Well, thanks to Twitter, commuters in the US can now at least pre-emt builds up of traffic, and alerts you to it, before you hit the road. You can now warn fellow road users of builds up of traffic just by tweeting @commuterfeed – with the details of your traffic knightmare. The service isn’t perfect, as it can’t currently geo-tag you, however they have worked on proposing an open standard for traffic alerts, which could help to see something like this take off worldwide.
As Twitter grows in size, these services will only get more and more useful. Websites such as Yahoo Answers, and Microsoft’s recent offering QnA are at real risk from some of the service listed above, as more and more people turn to near real-time answers to give them the help they need. Any of you guys got any other twitter bots or websites that you use to get real-time help? Let me know in the comments.