A raw twitter stream will typically look like gibberish for the uninitiated, especially when Twitter is used right. The short format (max 140 characters) typically force the tweeter to use very domain specific lingo, which may look weird for the outsider. This is why you might feel alienated when you visit certain Twitter streams.
You should only follow companies/people you care about, and you need not read all their tweets, at least not addressed messages (those tweets start with "@somename"). Create your own twitter login and follow those that interest you. When you follow someone, you don't see addressed messages to strangers and this typically remove the 'private noise' you see on their Twitter profile page. If you find the tweets from someone boring or just too frequent, stop following them. Tweet, re-tweet and reply wisely. When done well people will start to follow you.
Some companies tweet short sensible announcement, like a long boring list of short news headlines. The more savvy companies manage to engage with 'their followers' - people (typically customers) who somehow take an interest in what the company is doing. Companies who manage to do this have a 'direct line' to their most hard core customers/fans out there. They can chat back and forth with them both as a collective group and more individually.
I would say that Twitter has value for a company if - and only if - they can reach and engage customers, potential customers or relevant influential people via their Twitter activity. Twitter without engagement is probably a waste of time.
Obvious benefits of engaging relevant people via Twitter are keeping the outside world up-to-date with your products and getting feedback from people who care enough to give it, but you can also use Twitter to build up your brand as a caring company with great opinions on industry matters (react to feedback, share tips, voice you opinion on major relevant events). If you manage to do this you will probably get higher customer loyalty, and as a side effect you also get great input for future product development and voicing your opinions might also spawn of more awareness inside your company.
Some companies can benefit from Twitter while other would be wasting their time. If you sell high-end skateboards to rich teens, Twitter could probably boost your sales a lot. If you are a mortician I'd guess you wouldn't find Twitter useful.
talks with customers and respond to positive feedback and negative feedback - those customers are probably happy being heard. He is also following people who contact him. Both can build loyalty.
He is sharing some tips and he is showing a social side of the company by tweeting about employees birthdays and pictures from social events - this is to try to make him interesting to follow and show a human face. He also has some personal “now I’m going to meeting” tweets which I guess he might as well not do – I expect no one cares.
In short he is engaging customers and showing a side of the company that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. The followers (that read his tweets) are often reminded of the company’s existence and get a more personal relationship with the company.
just use twitter as a list of news headlines. They don’t seem to spend much time on it and they don’t seem to be using Twitter as a social media. They might be starting up their twitter activity – it takes time to learn Twitter and engage people.