Ed Dale made a good point in this tweet. Before you jump on the bandwagon and join Twitter.com to use it as a marketing tool, its important to understand the dynamics of this social community - and what makes it tick...
Twitter presents an incredible opportunity to build relationships with the leaders in your industry, and with your target market. It's a social medium for exposure and connections, and a great way to know and be known.
Keeping those connections active and mutually beneficial is the key. Which brings us back to the point Ed Dale made in the tweet above: consider the ways that you can create "followbility" with your Twitter account.
Just like any marketing strategy, you have to ask yourself what it is that your target market wants or needs from you - and deliver exactly that. The only difference between Twitter and any other medium... is that you do that in 140 characters or less.
If you blog, you need great content to build a loyal readership that keeps coming back for more. If you own a mailing list, your emails have to contain some value to keep your subscribers opening them. The same holds true with Twitter. Constant self-promotional blasts will leave you with zero following.
Your reach is your most valuable asset. This is the number of people that you can reach online at any given time, that are specifically interested in what you have to offer. This may include your blog readers, newsletter subscribers, website visitors, your networks at Facebook and MySpace, and now... your followers on Twitter.com.
Twitter users are particularly sensitive to spam in their space. Blasting out self-promotional tweets consistently is a sure-fire way to get unfollowed - and fast. That doesnt mean that you cant include links and make announcements. It simply means that you have to be both creative and tasteful about it.
Done right, 'tweeting' is one of the easiest and best ways to gain exposure and drive live traffic to your blog or website. Not just visitor count mind you, but real people with specific interests who are genuinely interested in what you have to say on a particular topic.
If I had to wrap it up in a bite-size nugget, my advice would be:
Keep it real, make it fresh, interact and show some personality! Your tweets should contain a good mix of current news, opinions, conversations and announcements. Reference links are welcomed, so use them liberally but with good taste.
Of course it helps if there are people out there 'listening' when you post your tweets. Just like any other web property, you have to stake your claim and then build your following.
Not sure where to start? Here are five super-easy ways to get the ball rolling...
1. Create a reason to be followed
Set up your account and start tweeting. Contribute something original, useful, funny or interesting to your ideal 'follower'. Most people will scan your profile before choosing to follow you, so make sure there's something there to interest them at first glance.
2. Search for people you already know
Use the search box at the top of your Twitter screen to search for people you already know. If you find them on Twitter, follow them! Look for authorities/leaders in your niche, blog authors you enjoy, people you connect with on other websites, etc. Twitter is a very social site and people you follow will often follow you too.
3. Put the word out!
Invite people to follow you on Twitter. Blog about it. Mention it in your newsletter. Put out a MySpace bulletin. Add a Twitter widget to your Facebook profile. Let people know about this cool new way to stay in touch with you!
4. Get involved in the current discussions
Reply to tweets you find interesting. If they reply to your response and a dialogue gets started, your twitter link will end up on their profile page. A person with a strong following, or even a smaller but targeted following, could end up sending you several new loyal followers.
5. Be consistent and let it grow naturally
Do the first four steps consistently, and you'll find that your Twitter following grows daily. Post a good mix of resources, humor & personality, news and updates throughout the week or even throughout the day.
Bonus Tip: Use your real name on your Twitter account - or the name people will most likely know you by online, such as a common username. This will help people find you easily when searching for you on Twitter or Google.
Its all in who you follow, and who follows you
Also see the Top 100 Twitterholics, based on number of followers: http://www.twitterholic.com/
New from Sherman Hu:
How To Use Twitter For Business Connections & Results