I'm going to focus on Twitter for this post, although I also use other forms of social media (Facebook being the other big one).
I know most people see Twitter as just a way to post updates (much like Facebook statuses) in a compact form. 140 characters is not a lot if you have a huge rant, or just a lot to say. But I use Twitter in a way that many people may not even think--I use it to talk to other people.
The majority of my Twitter people (as I call them--the ones that I talk to on a regular basis, the ones that I read their updates and they read mine, and we interact with each other in 140 characters or less) are members of the travel industry. And most of those are members of the cruise industry. Each day they post articles, reviews, posts, rants, commendations, sales, deals, pictures, podcasts, and radio shows dealing exclusively with the cruise industry.
I am not in the cruise industry. I am not a travel agent, I do not work for a cruise line. I am just a regular stay at home mom that likes to have some adult interaction during the day while the kids are napping or watching their educational tv. (how much Sesame Street can an adult watch before they turn into a muppet?!) Since I don't really know any adults that don't work during the day (I am one of the very few SAHMs of parents that I know), it's hard to work out play dates and such. So to the internet I turn when I have a few minutes free from other pursuits.
So I talk to people that share my passions--traveling being the big one. And the cruise industry seems to attract some of the nicest people. And since I'm a fan of cruising, ships, the ocean, etc., I gravitate to them.
So I'm sure you are wondering what I am rambling on and on about. I'll get there!
Tuesdays are #TravelTuesday--people of the travel industry make sure they are online so they can discuss all the new stuff going on, there are "parties", meaning people use a specific hashtag to pinpoint what their tweet is about. The one I participate in is #CruiseChat. It's an hour long question and answer period. The host (or hosts, depending) post questions, and participants answer. It provides a lot of interaction with other people, sometimes it gets a little crazy trying to follow along, as hundreds of people participate. And lately there have been contests. So even more of a reason to participate!
This week the prize was a $50 American Express gift card from sponsor @CruiseGiant. It's simple to enter the contest, you just retweet the specified post, and you are entered! (you have to have participated in the chat, however) So...this week, I WON! I never win anything! How completely awesome is that!?
Yes, this ties in with our vacation, because I plan to use that gift card towards something for/on vacation. Every little bit helps!
Also this week (I'm on a roll!) I won a free night at a Hilton hotel, from @HiltonHHonors. All I had to do there was tell them what I would go with a free night in one of their hotels. (it was a twitter contest they were having) And since we are going to have to stay over night in Baltimore before our cruise, well that's where I would use the free night!
So this week has been very unusual for me. I never win anything, yet since planning this cruise, I have won a free night in a hotel, (from my favorite hotel brand!) a $50 gift card, and earlier in the month a $50 on board credit .
So Twitter can be more than just a waste of time. It can be a great help in planning, booking, and paying for a vacation!