Thanks heaps for your question. It is always hard starting out. I will definitely be taking yours and Mike's comments on-board. It is starting to look like a lot of people are looking for a "how to get started" guide to social media.
Until I get something written and published, I hope the following may help you (and Mike) with Twitter.
Starting Out On Twitter
To put it simply, you need to give people a reason to follow you.
This can be done is a variety of ways, but from a small business perspective you really want to become a person or business that people go to when they want information about your industry.
Think about it as world of mouth on a broad scale. But do keep in mind that this can, and probably will, take time.
The first practical thing to do after signing up for Twitter is to fill in all your details. Put a picture up of you (I would recommend this over a logo), fill in the profile section - you only have 140 characters so make them count and explain exactly what you do), and set your location.
The next thing to do is to find people to follow. Donít just follow anyone. You want to find people who share your interests and that of your business.
There are several ways to do this, but depending on your business you could use Twellow.com to find people in the same industry, use Twitterís (newly upgraded) search at search.twitter.com, Tweepz.com (use their advance search features), justtweetit.com, wefollow.com and there are many others as well.
I would also recommend using Twitter Lists. When you find someone who is worth following and they have been listed in Twitter Lists then click through to those lists to see if anyone else in the lists would be worth following as well.
This can take a little time but it will be worth it.
Once you start following people of interest you should be doing the following:
- Re-Tweeting their interesting tweets - this will make them happy and get you on their radar.
- Tweeting your own relevant thoughts and comments - make them as helpful and precise as possible
- Linking to online articles and news stories related to your industry - Add context and commentary to each link.
- Comment on others tweets
- Always thank people for following you and Re-Tweeting your tweets
Always remember that you should tweet often and consistently. That doesnít mean you need to be on Twitter all day, everyday - simply get yourself a third-party Twitter client (I use Hootsuite - hootsuite.com, but many others are available) and spend 15-30 minutes scheduling your Tweets throughout the day. Then simply check in every so often for replies, re-tweets, etc.
That should be enough to get you started. Let me know if you have any follow-up questions.