null Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. It lets you post up to 140 characters at a time. Some people post their status every 5 minutes (“Waiting for the bus”, “On the bus”, “Walking home”) and companies use Twitter to get the word out about new products, blog posts, and other random stuff.
Companies from all over the world have Twitter accounts and thousands of people following them. Some of these companies are Apple, Intel, H&R Block, and Zappos. Barrack Obama has over 8k followers!

To leverage the Twitter potential you need to have people following you. That is, people that want to be updated on what you are up to.
Step 1: Importing Contacts
When you sign up for Twitter you will have a chance to import contacts from Gmail, Hotmail, and your own address book. Do it.
Step 2: Complete Your Profile
Make sure all your profile is complete and include a link to your website. Add “http” at the beginning of it to make it clickable. Personalize the colors and the sidebar on your profile page. Use keywords in your profile so others can find you.
Step 3: Understand the Dynamics of Twitter
Twitter is not a marketing tool; it’s a social tool. That means:

  • Don’t spam
  • Follow other users
  • Be active in the community (comment and post frequently)
  • Post useful information
  • Don’t post every 10 minutes
  • Engage in conversations. Retweet (reply to other tweets) often
  • Don’t promote yourself. Share cool stuff. To give your company exposure, do it the smart way. Direct your followers to a blog post with useful information and have that post invite users to take action. Don’t try to take people from Twitter to your checkout page directly.

Step 4: Build Your Audience
There are several things that you can do to build your audience:

  • Put a link to “Follow Me on Twitter” in your email signature, forums signature, website, and maybe even your business cards
  • Invite people to follow you on Twitter at the end of each blog post you create
  • Find Twitter users that you really look up to and see who is following them. Follow these people. Once they see you are following them, they will follow you.
  • See who is following your friends and follow them. They will follow you too.
  • Use Twitter directories to find members who are likely to follow you. My favorites are Just Tweet It and Twellow.
  • Use the search feature to find profiles that you want to follow. You can use Twitter’s RSS feed to be notified every time a tweet is made containing a certain keyword.

Step 5: Watch Your Following/Followers Ratio
Try to have a balance between people you follow and people that follow you. If 1,000 people follow you and you only follow 10 folks, you will be seen as selfish and snob. If 10 people follow you and you follow 1,000, you will be seen as a spammer.
Some tips that will help you keep both numbers balanced:

  • Grow slow. Instead of adding 500 new friends in one day, add maybe 50 and wait for them to follow you. Then do another 50.
  • Use a tool like Friend or Follow to see who is following you that you are not following and who you are following that is not following you. This tool is very useful to balance the number of following/followers.
  • Avoid the “follow/no follow” tactic. Some people follow others so they follow them and then they stop following those folks. Avoid this practice if you don’t want to look like a spammer.

Step 6: Post Useful Tweets
Make it worthwhile to follow you. If you’ve found something that your audience might find useful, tweet it. You can use Twitter tools to automatically tweet your blog posts.
Share what you do but avoid “selling”. For example, if you are a web developer you can tweet “we just finished designing the website for ABC Widgets” but avoid something like “Custom Web Design from $899”.
Step 7: Learn from the Experts
Find 10-20 users with over 300 followers and see what they are doing right. Get ideas and implement them.