How to Get More Out of Twitter

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With more than 500 million active users, Twitter is a promising tool for small businesses, but how can you make the most of the time you spend on the social media service?

Mark Schaefer, author of “The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time,” says the best way to get started is to follow other people, so look for co-workers, partners, customers, industry associates and others and follow them.

Find high-profile people in your industry and follow them. One great place to look for influencers is Check the websites and blogs of people in your industry and look for their Twitter link (and be sure to put your Twitter, Facebook and other social media links in a prominent place on your own website).

Join topic lists for your industry and profession, and search with hashtags (a # symbol followed by your search term, say #smallbusiness) to find influencers whom you can follow and discussions you can join. Experiment with search terms until you’ve found the most popular or relevant ones for your business.

Take the lead in Twitter chats and present yourself as an expert. Click the “@ Connect” tab to see who’s mentioning you (thank them) or asking you questions (answer them). Tweet something fresh at least three times a day, and retweet your followers to thank them. Your goal is to be helpful and an expert, not just drum up sales.

Adapted from Ten Ways to Get More Out of Twitter at Baseline Magazine.