Keep being asked why so many people are harping on about Twitter. So, a couple of words about what it is.

Firstly, Twitter is a free service which asks you to tweet (write) in 140 characters or less the answer to, “What are you doing now?”

Obviously, it is full of utterly trite observations about the mundanities of people’s lives, such as, “Eating Cajun Squirrel crisps”, “just getting off the train”, “working hard”. and other such banalities. But, it is also exploding with a wealth of information that reaches a wide audience because Tweets are quick and easy to read, and are a great distribution mechanism for info, as well as a promotion tool for blog posts, articles, discount products, and so on.

To sign up for Twitter, just go to Twitter.com, choose a user name, and you are off and running. Make sure you fill out your profile as this allows you to say a little bit about yourself and include a link to your website or blog.

However, you do need people to follow you, and if you want to get the most from Twitter, then it needs to be a 2 way, interactive conversation, rather than you just broadcasting to the world.

In order to find followers, particularly those within your subject niche or industry sector, you need to conduct searches on keywords and see who is posting about what. To follow someone, click on their username, and then click on ‘Follow’ under their avatar or profile picture. To unfollow, it is equally as simple, so should you find someone’s Tweets annoy you, or don’t interest you, simply unfollow them.

As soon as you post a Tweet, you should get a few followers fairly quickly. That person’s followers are shown in a box on the RHS, so it is always worth looking to see who they are following. Look for known industry experts. Look for people you know or respect. Look for people who tweet regularly on subjects that interest you.

There are many tools associated with Twitter as there are many developers working with the API to add value to the community, and tools such as Tweetdeck will allow you to monitor your friends and followers, filter out certain keywords, run searches on specific keywords and so on.

Look before you leap though with tools, and be wary of any that ask you to enter your Twitter username and password to use them. There have been instances of new tools being launched, gathering private data and being sold, literally within hours. Who knows what use the usernames and passwords may then be put to so be careful.

What uses are you putting Twitter to? Have you tried it and given up on it? Have you earnt business through it? Discovered new resources of value? Or do you think it is a complete waste of time?

Let us know.

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