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Wondering About Twitter? So Was I

What's the deal with Twitter? Is it the Next Big Thing in marketing? Just a social-networking tool? Perhaps a waste of time? I'm just starting to figure that out and found a few places with useful tips.

What's the deal with Twitter? Is it the Next Big Thing in marketing? Just a social-networking tool? Perhaps a waste of time? I'm just starting to figure that out and found a few places with useful tips.Twitter has been getting quite a bit of buzz, but I was unsure of what it was until recently. The concept of Twitter is "tweets" of 140 characters or fewer sent to e-mail, cell phones, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many other places.

bMighty editors Fred Paul and Ben Tomkins alert readers when important new stories are published, some retailers use Twitter to let "followers" know when they're having a sale, and a friend of mine need only tweet once to let her family and friends know her baby spoke his first word. So how can your business benefit from Twitter?

Denise O'Berry at AllBusiness.com posted a handy Twitter primer that explains how to choose whom to follow (Twitter's term for whose microblogs you want to receive) and how followers can become networkers or clients.

And from one of my first followers, Jason Buss, comes a link to "10 Ways To Increase Your Twitter Followers," which includes reminders to include links as much as possible, take photos, and follow the top Twitter users (No. 1: Barack Obama; No. 8: Guy Kawasaki) to see how they tweet.

Gayle Kesten of SmallBizResource said she uses Twitter to re-establish old connections, to make new ones, and as a marketing tool to link to what she's writing about. In addition, "you can leverage the work you've done and show a bigger audience," she said.

The point of Twitter is it's quick, easy, and free -- so easy that you can tweet in a variety of ways, the main one by simply logging in to the site and typing a sentence or two, and then it's e-mailed to your followers. Or you can use Ping.fm to tweet via your cell phone, IM, e-mail, or third-party app, and your tweet is posted to a possible 30ish social-networking sites, such as Flickr, Plaxo, Facebook, Plurk, and LinkedIn. I haven't tried Ping.fm yet, but our bMighty editors swear by it for its simplicity.

And then there's the ability to use a free service like Jott Networks, which converts your phoned-in voicemail to text and then posts it. Yes, you can literally just phone it in.

Twitter does have its cons. It's known to be down so often that you might as well bookmark istwitterdown.com (Twitter went down four times in the first hour I worked on my profile). Also, it got hacked earlier this month. But, as with anything you do businesswise, it always pays to think twice about what you're posting for the whole world to see and how much personal information you're divulging.

I hope some of this has been as helpful for you as it is for me as I begin a life of tweeting. While Twitter may seem "silly," perhaps your business can't afford to ignore this marketing phenomenon. If anything, Twitter's insertion into mainstream media is something to watch.

Let me know if you have any Twitter advice or tips and follow me at jennifermoline!

More From bMighty: 10 Ways To Start Social Networking

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