To say Twitter is hot would be an understatement. It has exploded, and to "tweet" has already become a part of our vernacular, just like to "google" something did a few years back. It seems like a strange concept, at first, and not really something that a business person would benefit from. But it is becoming clear that being on Twitter has a legitimate role in business promotion, so it is definitely something you should investigate if you haven't already.
If you take the steps to build a large list of somewhat relevant followers (and to have a large list of people you follow), you will quickly find that things get very unmanageable. Can you really carry on daily conversations with hundreds or thousands of people? Put another way - can you do that and still get any work done?
What you need is a system - a particular way of using Twitter that will insure that you are making good use of your time. What follows is a description of one way to effectively manage your Twitter account using only free tools.
First step: Sign up for a Twitter account at www.twitter.com. That part should be pretty obvious. You can't tweet if you ain't on Twitter.
Second step: Download TweetDeck at www.tweetdeck.com. If you really don't care what other people have to say and simply want to blast your messages out to the world, then you can skip this step. However, you may find that your Twitter campaign has more success if you take a more active role, with the attitude that you will engage in conversation, rather than throw advertisements at people. As you follow more and more people, use TweetDeck to divide them into logical groups. The sooner you begin grouping the people you follow, the sooner you will actually be able to read postings from people you are interested in.
Third step: Sign up with Tweet Later at www.tweetlater.com. If you don't follow back people who follow you, many of them will eventually remove you from their list. It's just the way the system works. It is also a great idea to send a personal message to everyone who follows you. TweetLater takes care of both of these functions for you so you don't have to worry about doing it manually.
Fourth step: Install BigTweet at www.bigtweet.com on your browser's toolbar from www.bigtweet.com. As you surf the Web, any time you find a web page with some interesting information (or that might be useful to your followers) highlight a snippet and click the BigTweet button. Or you can just click the button without highlighting anything, and the text of your tweet will be the title of the web page. Instant tweet, no thinking required.
Fifth step: Use your Twitter interface or a tool like TwitSeeker at www.twitseeker.com to periodically search for people to follow. If you follow 10 or 20 new people per day, you will find that the list of people who follow you in return will explode, as long as you are active in making tweets.
Sixth step: Use the Twitter widget, available by clicking the Apps button at the bottom of your Twitter page, to stream your Twitter posts onto your web site and blog. This step doesn't really have anything to do with managing your account, but rather with making good use of the content you create when you use your account.
If you want to be even more advanced or just don't have much time for tweeting, then you might want to investigate the paid version of TweetLater. It lets you pre-schedule spinnable tweets. What this means is that the tool will post dynamic, changing tweets for you on a regular schedule.
Twitter is a great tool for marketing. By using a few free applications and an organized system such as described above, you will soon have many hundreds or thousands of followers in your Twitter account, many of whom are potential customers or referral sources.