Have you flocked to Twitter yet?

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Have you signed up to the chatter of Twitter yet? If so, you’re one of 500 million people around the world who is using the micro-blogging site to share their thoughts.

The idea is that you can tell your ‘followers’ what you’re doing – providing you do it in 140 characters or less – and can follow anyone who has a Twitter account, from the Prime Minister to Britney Spears. In fact, every man and his dog seems to have a Twitter account. This isn’t an exaggeration – within days of announcing they had brought home a new puppy, Prince William and Kate’s pooch Lupo was tweeting to his 1,400 followers under the username @HRH_Lupo.

Lady Gaga has the highest number of Twitter followers in the world with 19.5 million, while Ashton Kutcher famously became the first person to reach one million followers in 2009.

But aside from celebrity stalking, Twitter can bring real benefits and help to keep you in touch with what’s going on in the world.

The University of Northampton has been tweeting for around two years and now has more than 3,000 followers.

It uses Twitter to talk to current and prospective students as well as other organisations it works with.

Claire Bicknell, communications officer at the university, said: “We saw the emergence of Twitter and the way a lot of our students were using it to communicate. We recognised the fact we had to be on it.

“We get course enquiries through Twitter, students advertise events that have coming up and we use it for a variety of other things.

“It is a great way of keeping in touch and tells you what people are talking about. It is a fantastic way of talking to people.”

The Evening Telegraph is using Twitter to talk to our readers and share breaking news with our followers.

Our chief sports writer Jon Dunham – @JonDunhamET – keeps his followers up to date on the latest news about Kettering Town Football Club, which has been particularly useful in recent weeks as the club struggles to survive.

Jon said: “I first went on Twitter mainly because I am pretty nosey and it was a good way of finding out what famous people and sports stars were up to.

“But it has turned out to be an extremely useful tool from a work point of view.

“It helps publicise what we may have coming up in the paper while it can also be used to deliver breaking news at any time of day.

“It’s also good as it helps me engage with the readers and, in my case, fans of Kettering Town and the other local sports teams.”

Evening Telegraph acting editor Neil Pickford – who can be followed on Twitter at @NeilPickfordET – said: “Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook give us at the Evening Telegraph a great opportunity to develop a more dynamic, connected and open approach to our journalism.

“We live and work in a fast moving, digital world, and as such we want to share breaking news with our readers and website viewers as soon as possible. Using Twitter is just one of the ways we are trying to do just that.

“Twitter enables us to give enough information to keep people up to date with events as they happen and to let people know about the more detailed and comprehensive news and features service we offer in the newspaper itself and on our website.

“And, let’s not forget, Twitter is also a great way for our journalists to be contacted by people with stories to tell, events to promote or issues they want to raise.

“We hope plenty of readers will start to follow the various members of our team and get more regular news updates and develop an even stronger relationship with our newspaper and website.”

Follow the Evening Telegraph using @northantset