There are over a billion Tweets sent every three days. Twitter currently has 140 million active users and the top region for Twitter usage is Venezuela with, believe it or not, 100% of the population using this social network. In the US, the number is approximately 30% and growing. As of May 2010, Thursday and Friday were the most active days on Twitter and 10:00-11:00 pm was the most active time. But like all things social media the rate of change is intense.

Being amongst the 30+% of Twitter users in this country I am hooked and constantly surprised at how many around me still do not use the site. Since the way it can be used is virtually endless and the tweets represent conversations related to almost any topic imaginable Twitter probably holds some value for most of us.

Following the follies of celebrities is what perhaps some of us associate with Twitter and that can certainly hold no interest. On the other hands, here are my top five suggestions for making Twitter indispensable for you:

1-Sign up! Use a standard professional photograph and put a few words in the bio section. Then use “what’s trending” or “browse categories” to search for topics that are of interest to you. Carefully select (Twitter can quickly become noise if you follow too many irrelevant folks) those you want to follow and observe.

2- In today’s world, news is old by the time it gets to the papers. News web sites are certainly abundant and have been for years and provide a more up-to-minute sense of what is going on. But Twitter allows you to take this one step further. By following your favorite news sites and even having this news delivered to your mobile device, you begin to get real time exposure to breaking stories. This can hold major competitive advantage for some of us or at least make for interesting conversation for others. Some of the most influential on Twitter are: @nytimes, @cnn, @financialtimes, @bbcbreaking

3-The peculiarly named, yet oh so useful hashtag is one of my favorite Twitter tools (how many of you knew that the symbol # is called a hash symbol?) Using a hashtag before a word or phrase allows Twitter to organize all tweets with the same hashtag together. For example, during the Olympics, inputting: #olympics or #olympics2012 or #london2012 provided varied comments and information on the Olympics all neatly assembled for one’s perusal.

4-Today most articles on the web have an icon attached that allows it to be tweeted or shared in a variety of other social media outlets. Why not use Twitter to assemble the articles that you read and may want to reference at some point? By Tweeting the article it becomes part of your Twitter page and it can be referred back to at any time. It is like having your own virtual library.

5-Finally, for those of us interested in the world of corporate governance there is an abundance of feeds that can provide up-to-the-minute information from a variety of perspectives. Some of my favorites are: The Conference Board Governance Center (@tcbcorpgov), Corporate Secretary (@corpsecmag) and Nell Minow (@nimow). There are, of course, so many others but hopefully your curiosity is spurned and you can make your own discoveries!