While Twitter is still in its infancy stage, it has already made quite a splash in the media and within the social marketing community. Let's face it, when the President of the United States is sending oval office tweets, well then, it's been officially cemented in the American socioplex. It's now estimated that over 14 million in the US are Twitterers (according to Nielsen Online). But what does this mean to you? Here are the top 5 reasons Twitter will change the way some companies do business as we know it.

    1. New, faster way to collect consumer dataPreviously it was time consuming, often difficult and extremely expensive to gather consumer data. Large corporations will pay thousands, even millions, for market research and it is very effective in determining how the public views your product as well as the competition and much more. With Twitter, a company can get real time opinions and feedback from its consumers. For example, when Apple came out with the new iPhone in June 2009 people flocked to Twitter to share their thoughts about the new product. It was impossible not to notice it while on Twitter that day. When Firefox released its latest upgrade people looked to Twitter to voice how they felt about it. It has been reported that companies, such as Apple, Ford and Southwest Airlines, are among some of the corporations following and gathering consumer data from Twitter and listening to what the public is saying, their gripes and concerns. I boldly ask, why not make use of this free, real-time information? While you may not be a household brand, it can still be an effective way to communicate to the public – but more importantly, to let them communicate to you.

    1. Unlike Most Social Media, It Actually Helps TV and PrintMedia outlets such as CBS News, TIME and NBC News are on Twitter and are not afraid to use it. CNN has over 1.5 million followers, which ranks third among all the people or companies who use Twitter. It's undeniable that people have access to news faster. It's only been eight years since 9/11 and you can probably remember how the story developed over the course of 24, 48 and 72 hours – just imagine the coverage of that fateful day if onlookers and people inside the towers had Twitter at their fingertips. Not long ago, however, with the growth of the web and social networks were on display during the massacre at Virginia Tech which took much less time to reach the masses. Twitter has provided an outlet for TV and print to grab more viewers and provide information faster. Normally social media takes away from traditional media, as people are watching less TV and reading fewer newspapers and magazines while devoting their energy and time to their Facebook wall and profile.

    1. Extreme Local MarketingIf used correctly, Twitter can be utilized as a wonderful marketing tool. Before, it would take a hefty advertising budget and creative genius for a local business to grab the attention of potential consumers. Twitter has changed all that. Now a local business can target people living in their area to alert them of special offers, merchandise, sales and upcoming events. Where traditional marketing might have cost hundreds or thousands, marketing on Twitter is completely free. In the future, I would not be surprised if Twitter users followed local businesses to find the best deal on an oil change or the cheapest movie tickets.

    1. A New Way To Drive Traffic To A BlogIn business, if your company has a blog, it is important to post interesting and insightful content but without an audience to notice and read the content, your efforts are futile. Twitter provides a free way to drive more traffic to your site. Quickly post a link to the latest blog entry, which will alert your followers new content has been posted to your blog.

    1. New Ways To Get Quick DataTwitter gets information to people fast. Now that people have Twitter on their mobile devices, they can get information faster than ever before.

Twitter began as a social media tool and is quickly gaining speed as an absolute marketing weapon to compete in the marketplace. If used properly and creatively companies can tap into information they only dreamed of before. How is Twitter helping your business?