foodistablogTwitter is defined as a social networking and micro-blogging service.  If you aren’t on Twitter yet your first question might actually be “What the heck is micro-blogging?”

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, “Micro-blogging is a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates (usually 140 characters) and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, MP3 or the web.”

That’s really it in a nutshell.  The best way to understand what the fuss is about is to actually use it for yourself.

Platforms available include Twitter, identi.ca and Yammer among others.  Twitter is one of the most popular services and the one I personally use. I have been “twittering” daily for about a year now and have to say, it’s pretty darn addicting.  At first I wondered, as I suspect others do when they first use it, “what’s the point?”  After using instant messenger for ten years I didn’t really get it.

As I used it more it started making sense from a small business perspective.  Twitter’s been out over two years now but I still know lots of people who look at me funny when I start raving about it.  I don’t quite believe it’s gone completely mainstream yet, but I highly recommend it as another great way to get the word out about your products or services.

Here are my top five reasons for using Twitter as a part of your overall business strategy:

They Say it’s All About Relationships

1) Communication: How many times have we heard that people do business with those they know, like and trust?  Keeping in line with what social networking is all about, Twitter promotes conversation–in nice little bite-size chunks.

2) Marketing: As long as you’re not self-promoting all day every day, it is perfectly acceptable to “tweet” about that new teleseminar or e-book you’ve cooked up. If you are regularly contributing to the conversation in other, non sales-y ways then the idea is that you’ll strike a nice balance.  I always say try to keep it to about 85% non-promotional to 15% promotional just to give a rough idea.

3) Branding: If you are following a healthy number of people and vice versa, you are in effect able to “touch” them several times a day.  From your avatar to the link to your website or blog, you can promote your brand through your profile and have people “get” what you’re about without forcing it down their throats. Your presence and tweets serve as impressions on your potential customers.

4) Knowledge Sharing: I’ve picked up quite a few good tips, recommendations and just plain nuggets of wisdom on Twitter.  It is another great channel for the exchange of ideas between entrepreneurs and small business owners.

5) Networking/Idol Worship: This is pretty obvious.  If you are following others in your industry or the industry you would like to be in, you can rub shoulders so to speak without even leaving your couch. I’ve exchanged a few direct messages with several people I really admire and think it’s pretty cool.  Besides, you never know if you’ll bump into them at a seminar or something and they’ll remember your exchanges.  You could end up pitching them your latest project or find that they’re looking for a JV partner you would be a good fit for.

Let’s connect:

Sign up for Twitter

Follow me on Twitter

Download the free Twitter client that I prefer, Tweetdeck

If you see any other benefits to Twitter that are not mentioned here, let me know in the comments.

Also, be sure to sign up for my free social media e-course if you haven’t already.

Photo Credit: Foodistablog

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