So you’re ready to take the jump into the wild world of Twitter.

Trust me, however daunting it may seem—there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Once you get yourself familiar with the territory, you’ll be on your way to making a big splash on Twitter.

As you’re getting started you’re most likely interested in getting a basic understanding of Twitter so you can implement an approach to effectively use Twitter to help you achieve your marketing goals.

In order for that to happen what it really boils down to is three things:

1. Building a targeted audience

2. Creating an engaging channel

3. Developing a thriving network over time to leverage when needed

The approach you take to do these things comes from understanding how the platform works. So let’s see if we can remove the intimidation factor involved with getting started.

Understanding Twitter

Twitter is the 140 characters messaging service that was originally developed for cell phones. That’s the reason for the 140 character limit. Today, Twitter has morphed into more of an online service that puts you in the virtual room with a large potential audience. But what you’re probably wondering is how does this thing work?

Imagine a giant cocktail party

Imagine walking around the party listening in on everyone’s conversations. At first, it’d seem pretty noisy until you zeroed in on a conversation you found interesting. Then you’d introduce yourself and join in. Once that conversation fizzles, you’d move on to the next.

That’s what it’s like on Twitter. There are people chatting away, sharing ideas, opinions, and links to websites and blogs. You seek out the people talking about topics you’re interested in. Then you follow those people.

‘Following’ is Twitter’s fancy word for what you do when you want to see a person’s updates regularly.  When people are interested in your updates, they become your followers.

With each new connection you make, you extend the potential of your network. These Twitter connections can lead to deeper conversations in other mediums, such as connecting through email, blogs, phone calls or face-to-face meetings. As with any relationship, there’s always the possibility of adding a new customer, client, audience member or some other unforeseen benefit.

What will Twitter do for you exactly?

This depends on your specific goals. But in general terms, it gives you ACCESS, both on a personal and professional level. Twitter allows you to connect with people quickly and easily, people that you would never have been able to reach before. Most importantly Twitter allows you to LISTEN. You’ll find out exactly how to cater to the needs of your audience.

Aren’t people just wasting time on Twitter?

No, it’s not just people blabbering about what they had for dinner and their cats. Or what their cats had for dinner. It’s people sharing links, news, photos, ideas, and directly and indirectly selling their stuff. Yes, those blabbering dinner and crazy cat people are there too, but you don’t need to worry about them.

Focus only on the people you want to know more about, that bring value to your network, and the people you want to connect with down the line. These are the people whose messages, or updates—or tweets as they’re known on Twitter—you are interested in. This also includes people who would be a potential audience for your stuff, whatever that may be.

“This sounds like a giant time suck!”

The amount of time you spend on Twitter is entirely up to you. Realistically, after some preparation, you can spend as little as 15-minutes a day on Twitter and start to see the benefit. But as with any endeavor, the more time you put in, the more benefits you reap.

“Is there a wrong way to use Twitter?”

Some people think it’s a place to talk about what you’ve had for lunch. Others think it’s a touchy-feely “we’re going to change the world” type of atmosphere. And yes, there are those who even want to show you how to make millions of dollars from a single tweet. Who’s right?

They all are. That’s the beauty of Twitter.

Just like in the offline world, you seek out like-minded people. If you don’t like what someone else is doing, that’s okay. One click is all it takes to keep someone from bothering you.

If there’s no wrong way to use Twitter, is there a right way?

Remember that the platform is still relatively new. Everyone is figuring it as they go along. Everyone is learning from each other. Failing, succeeding and having a good time. But just like anything that’s new, it’s nice to get a little perspective. So the key thing to remember is that you’re looking to develop relationships with people. With this approach, you’ll be heading down the right path.

Summing up

  • Like a worldwide cocktail party, Twitter gives you access to people you otherwise may not have been able to reach.
  • You can spend as little as 15-minutes a day making connections, driving traffic to your website and, learning about your audience.
  • Don’t be intimidated. Look at it as an opportunity to connect and learn from one another.

Now grab yourself a cocktail. It’s time to get this party started. Check out the resources below. Oh, and if you’re not already, you should follow me on Twitter.

Here are some other resources to help you get started on Twitter:

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