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Once a seemingly pointless platform for talking about what you had for breakfast, Twitter boldly evolved into a social media sensation. At last count, according to tech journal Mashable, the platform that limits your utterances to 140 characters had over 200 million users. That is an awful lot of “tweeple”.

As a small business owner, I am still working through the debate over the benefits of social media, in particular Twitter, to business owners and executives, so I thought this article very relevant to my business and I hope to you and your business….Let me know what you think by going to my facebook or, twitter page or via

Two social media experts explain how small business owners can channel Twitter's tiny might.

10 Tips on becoming a 'twexpert'

1. When setting up a Twitter account, brainstorm what to tweet about, advises the managing director of digital engagement agency The Dubs, Josh Frith, who has worked with brands including the BBC.

Most information you share should revolve around a theme. If you are a gym, tweet health and fitness tips - if you tweet about, say, Bengal tigers, you will forfeit followers.

2. Twitter is all about engaging customers. So, avoid being heavily promotional, and ensure you have a proper personality, says Frith.

That means be honest. Let followers know a real person exists behind those 140 characters. Followers will see through any marketing ploys you concoct.

3. If people follow you, follow back, Frith says, explaining that conversation is central to Twitter. Do not treat it as a broadcasting medium.

If you get a direct message, reply. If you see a question someone has tweeted and you know the answer, again, take the time to reply because answering creates goodwill.

4. As a way of fuelling engagement with your product or services, you might want to start a blog. Then, to lure more traffic, post the link back to the site on Twitter, Frith says.

5. Many Twitter users will follow you back if you have interesting content, or work in a field that interests them, says Frith. So, track down regular customers by running a Twitter search and follow them.

If they follow back, tweet thank you notes. If they post something interesting, retweet it. Everyone likes to know someone is listening.

6. Enlist a measurement tool, such as Klout, Frith says. To gauge the influence you wield through Twitter, check it often - see if your strategy works and people care about your tweets.

Also use tools that “measure the sentiment behind the numbers”. Tools including TwitterSentiment, SocialMention, and UberVu let you gauge people's feelings toward your brand. Fees may apply, but the intel could be priceless.

7. Adopt a Twitter client like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, says Will Ockenden, who heads the social media division for public relations firm Lucre, which runs Twitter campaigns for clients ranging from small-to-medium enterprises to “blue chips”.

Twitter clients are free apps that let you run Twitter in a more user-friendly way than, monitoring clients “on the move on your iPhone”. And you can set alerts to appear whenever a particular comment is mentioned, saving “an incredible amount of time”.

8. Promote your Twitter channel on as many marketing channels as possible, Ockenden says. “In essence, tell your customers that you're on Twitter.”

On your homepage, embed a link saying, "Follow us on Twitter." Also state that you are on Twitter in any direct marketing campaigns you run, and embed links in your emails. The benefits could be huge.

9. Allow yourself gradually to find your own Twitter voice, Ockenden says.

Eventually, you will discover your own unique tone - be it informal and helpful or authoritative. Audience feedback will shape its development.

10. Measurement is vital, Ockenden says.

“Don't just do it and forget about it.” Measure your Twitter channel's success: the extent of community engagement. Check the number of followers you have. Is it rising?

“Make sure you measure and analyse all the time. Otherwise, you really won't know what you're achieving or what kind of success you're getting.”

Source:  January 18, 2012.

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