All A-Twitter

The decision is in. Twitter is no longer a fad and not just for kids. Twitter has evolved into one of the most powerful networking and marketing tools we've seen. According to Nielsen Wire's blog, "Twitter increased 1,382 percent year-over-year, from 475,000 unique visitors in February 2008 to 7 million in February 2009, making it the fastest growing site in the Member Communities category for the month."

An interesting statistic also shared in this article is that the largest community is comprised of ages 35 - 49 comprising of nearly 47% of who is on Twitter these days and that of these folks, nearly 65% of them access Twitter from work. Still think it is for kids?

So now you know you shouldn't hold off any longer. Seemingly simple to join and ever more complex to master, Twitter is still a good choice for business. Twitter offers one of the easiest sign up features I have seen and getting a Twitter account will be the least of your challenges. However, from there remains the looming questions of how to make it productive and how not to get overwhelmed with the 7 million people to listen and talk to.

This is relatively new and because it is so hot there are thousands of emerging experts, books already en masse both ebooks and traditional hard cover, websites and blogs that are helpful and abundant and friends of friends who can assist. You can read some of our earlier blogs where we have discussed Twitter and please know that I have found more than 300 third party Twitter applications to help you in your quest to master tweeting. I do intend to share links and observations over the next few weeks so if you haven't yet subscribed to our blog, now might be a good time to consider subscribing. Ok, so let's get on with this.

In one entry I cannot say or share all that is needed so I thought I would start at the beginning and talk strategy, and like any marketing effort, you need a smart strategy.

Twitter is not a traditional marketing channel by any stretch of the imagination and so you cannot take your standard marketing strategy and apply it to Twitter. Twitter is about having sociable conversations and about building relationships based on interests and perceived value. If you think you are going to get on to Twitter and start booking business, get over it as that is not likely to happen. Twitter is a long-term investment in relationship building and brand awareness. So there, your ROI metrics aren't going to work in this model. You won't tweet and get an order. So, let's get this show on the road.

The first question you want to ask is WHO DO I WANT TO FOLLOW ME? Why, because those are the people that are going to listen to what you have to say and constitute your REACH.

The next question you have to ask is WHY WOULD THEY FOLLOW ME?

Last but certainly not least, you need to ask HOW WILL THIS HELP MY BUSINESS?

How to explore the WHO. You will need to have a Twitter account, so if you don't have one, go ahead and sign up. Don't obsess just yet on the details, just get on-board and think of it as a test account. This will give you the ability to research. The following recommendations do not constitute a complete list of applications to try out but it is a helpful starting point.

To begin searching who is on Twitter visit Twello, a robust and powerful yellow page style application to search. You can narrow your searches geographically and by industry.

To check out some of Twitter's inhabitants and you aren't ready to let them know about you, use a TweetStalk a service that allows you to eavesdrop and spend time studying these folks and learn about their interests, their reach and how you might begin to connect with them. The reason for using this service is that if your Twitter profile is not yet ready for its debut you don't want to risk losing the parties you are interested in before you've even started. Once you follow someone, they get a notification and have the option to follow back. Think of it like hosting a cocktail party, you don't want to show up in your underware!

Keep a running list of who you want to follow understanding their role in your new twitterverse. Are they decision makers, influencers, or connectors? You'll want to have a mix of these profiles in your who to follow list.

The other areas you want to explore for who to follow are the people who share interesting or valuable information. Industry, local or world news; entertainment; helpful technology or industry gurus; hobbyist and so on. These folks can be a rich resource to introduce you to new ideas and information and likewise, provide interesting posts that you can share with your followers through retweeting (a lot more on this topic later) adding both to your value and your personality.

I hope that you found this helpful and if you subscribe to this blog you will get more on Twitter. We will cover the strategy development of Why Will They Follow You in our next issue. From there we will explore the tools that will help you remain sane and effective in your Twittering endeavors.

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