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Five ways to boost your business with Twitter

Twitter can help, but make a plan first

Twitter can be a valuable business tool, if you know what you're doing. We've put together five important points to consider before using the microblogging tool in business.

2. Follow the right people

Both Fitton and Scoble agree that the key to using Twitter effectively is to listen more than you talk. "You should be reading tweets," says Scoble, "not writing tweets".

Use the search tool at search.twitter.com to find people who are tweeting about you, your competitors or topics germane to your business, and watch how other Twitterers respond to them. Eventually, you'll want to join in the conversation yourself, but first follow the people you've identified as key commenters.

Following customers, clients, colleagues and thought leaders in your field not only shows that you want to hear what they have to say, it also encourages them to follow you - and it lets them contact you privately if they choose. (Twitter allows members to send private 'direct messages' only to their followers - that is, people who are already subscribed to their posts.)

3. Be interesting

The key to gaining business advantage with Twitter is to offer something of value with every tweet, whether that's news about your company, advice for using your products, insight about your niche or even just a laugh. Twitter users, at least today's early adopters, are very sensitive to attempts at manipulation, so don't flood your tweet stream with spin, ad-speak or empty self-promotion.

The secret, according to Fitton, is to "be unselfish. The one thing that fails every time on Twitter is being selfish".

Keep in mind that the central function of Twitter is to give people a chance to talk about themselves, to tell the world what they are doing. Encourage your followers to talk about themselves by asking them questions related to your mutual interests that they'll want to answer.

Or, conversely, talk about your followers - by name. Show interest in the people who use your products. If you're interested in them, they'll be interested in you, advises Scoble.

NEXT PAGE: Engage the conversation, on Twitter and beyond

  1. Form a strategy before jumping in head first
  2. Follow the right people
  3. Engage the conversation, on Twitter and beyond
  4. Twitter tools

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