To say Twitter is popular is kind of like saying New York City is crowded: at the time of their November 2013 IPO, Twitter reported to the Securities Exchange Commission that it had 232 million active users. While there’s no argument that 232 million is a lot of users, they may actually have many more: the total number of Twitter accounts open is well over 883 million.

Largely thanks to its popularity, Twitter has proven itself to be quite versatile: people use it to keep in touch, to share pictures, to communicate, to start discussions, to get the news, to track current issues, and to advertise their businesses. For some, Twitter is even used as a tool for idea generation. In fact, when it comes to ingenuity, sometimes the quick banter required by being limited to 140 characters is all you need to get the creative juices flowing. Here are just a handful of the ways that Twitter can be used for generating ideas.

Research Trending Topics

Twitter helps keep your finger on society’s pulse and keep abreast of which topics and fads are all the rage. Twitter, perhaps more than any other form of social media, keeps up with trends, and can even spawn new ones. Hashtags allow users to label their tweets and search for content by topic. You can search by hashtag to see what people are saying about a given topic, or you can even start a hashtag campaign and invite your followers to tweet at you, including the hashtag you’ve chosen, to generate interest in an event, service, or cause you’re promoting. Twitter displays which hashtags are most popular in a given area at the moment, allowing you to see at a glance what topics are trending. This type of insight can be invaluable to generating an idea for a piece of long-form content, like a blog post, that is topical and relevant to what people care about.

The Content Runner team got into the team spirit when the Seahawks won the Superbowl, and we used hashtags to let everyone know.

Understand What Isn’t Working

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes on social media knows that it is a place where people go to vent. They vent about whatever irks them: relationships and traffic, long lines and bad weather. But they also vent about services and products that are failing them. This type of venting could provide the spark you need to come up with a new idea: by reading about what doesn’t work, you may be able to come up with an innovative solution to a common problem.

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Potassium is good for you.

Jackson looks like he could use a break. He should try checking out what’s trending on Twitter!

Often, people who come up with the grandest ideas do it while engaging in the most mundane tasks, such as brushing their teeth, using the bathroom, or taking a shower. Though the research is far from conclusive, many have suggested that this happens because distraction is very conducive to creativity. By taking a break from thinking and concentrating, the brain is able to recharge and begin generating new ideas and concepts. This is why ideas tend to pop up where you least expect them. Reading tweets on Twitter, especially those that are funny, irreverent, or ridiculous, is a great way to give your brain a break from concentration, tune in to what people are saying, and amp up your creativity.

Put Out Feelers

The days of reference letters and website testimonials have been replaced by online suggestions: if you need a good plumber, for example, you simply ask those on your social network for suggestions. This concept can also work when a business is trying to come up with fresh ways of thinking. If your company is having a hard time generating a new slogan or a new tagline, for instance, asking for suggestions (and even holding a contest) can bring forth all kinds of original thought. You just never know where you’ll find a gem, and crowdsourced marketing is a brave new frontier.

Scout Out New Talent

If you’re consistently stumped and it’s time to put together a team of creatives, Twitter can even help you find new talent. For some, Facebook and Twitter represent a modern day tool for keeping tabs on their exes, but these platforms also represent a modern day tool for recruiting: as many as 92% of US companies recruit using social networks, up from 78 percent a few years ago. This is likely due to social media, including Twitter, being a vehicle that introduces employers to all kinds of personalities; a lot can be gleaned by what people post publicly. It allows those hiring to get a sense of how strong a candidate may be and what ideas they may bring to the table.

All Tweeted Out? We Can Help.

If you’re striking out on Twitter, Content Runner might be able to help. We have an Idea Engine all our own. Through this tool, Users can type in a keyword or phrase, and our engine will generate popular search queries, as well as how frequently they’re searched and its CPC, and relevant tweets related to the keyword. If you’re hard pressed to come up with new ideas, give Content Runner’s Idea Engine a try—you might just find yourself #winning.