Looking for shopping deals? Try Twitter.

Even if pithy posts aren’t your thing, one of Twitter’s other uses is probably more helpful: finding deep discounts and alerts on sales at your favorite stores.

By , Staff Writer for The Christian Science Monitor

Twitter.com is an acquired taste. The popular microblogging site has attracted millions of fans with its simple, haiku-like way of sharing daily musings. But, if you think Twitter is pointless, you have a lot of company. It takes a particular kind of online sensibility to understand why “tweeting” is worth your time.
Even if pithy updates aren’t your thing, one of Twitter’s other uses is probably more helpful: finding deep discounts and alerts on sales at your favorite stores.

Eager to make the most of the online phenomenon, many companies have set up Twitter accounts that their customers can subscribe to or just check in on from time to time. These rolling lists of significant (often exclusive) deals, store updates, and customer service are free to “follow” and fit somewhere between shotgun-style circulars and needlessly rah-rah newsletters. Here are some of the best.

Airlines: JetBlue and United Airlines tip off Twitter users to last-minute empty seats. Every Monday, JetBlue hawks a new assortment of discounted domestic flights, which regularly hit $9 for a one-way ticket. Each listing only lasts until that evening and links, which can be found at twitter.com/jetbluecheeps, provide more information.

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Throughout the week, United throws up twares (Twitter fares) that last for just a few hours and are only advertised at twitter.com/unitedairlines.

Electronics: In June, Dell bragged that it brought in an extra $3 million in revenue by advertising sales and special deals at twitter.com/delloutlet. The computermaker’s long line of online deals and rebate codes made it one of the few retailers to reach 1 million Twitter “followers,” or subscribers.

BestBuy’s Outlet account has a lot of ground to cover in terms of fans, but it’s a far more focused venture. While Dell clutters its Outlet page with community-building and thank-you messages to users, twitter.com/bestbuy_outlet sticks to deals.

Customer service: Among the other companies in the 1-million-follower club are several that use Twitter as a next-generation customer-service tool. In addition to manning phone lines, Whole Foods and Zappos station employees on Twitter duty. Their pages focus less on explicit deals and more on promoting a certain lifestyle. The retailers spend their time on Twitter answering questions, linking to apropos articles, and sharing inspirational messages – all in 140 characters or fewer.

Aggregators: Don’t know where to start? Rather than home in specific businesses, some people prefer to let others do the sale scouting for them. Twitter.com/bargainfeeder and twitter.com/shoplocalcom draw their tweet deals from across the Internet.

The website trackingtwitter.com/brands keeps an eye on microblogging companies and gives quick reviews. It recommends following Hertz rental cars, Comcast cable, and Marriott hotels.

Also, once you’ve signed up for a Twitter account, there’s a “Find People” button in the top right corner. Type in your favorite companies and see if and how they use Twitter.

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