There are many social media ‘experts’ out there – but let me say I’m not one of them. I’m just a regular guy who started using twitter a while back, who now follows (and is followed by) around 1000 ‘tweeps.’ More importantly, I’ve built relationships that have led to discussions (which I bet will lead to some sales). If you aren’t sure of how twitter can help you market your business, let me share what I’ve found that works.

I try hard to respond to anyone’s questions. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll point them to the twitter-user that would know the answer – even if they’re a competitor. If I do solve a simple problem, the person who asked is more likely to contact me when they have a bigger issue. As well, others can see that I’m helpful and they also may ask me to help them with their problem.

social_mediaI follow and exchange tweets with competitors. This seems counter-intuitive, but it’s a good way to acknowledge others who share my passion for what I do. It’s also a good way to get found.

Some believe that you need to separate corporate from personal twitter accounts. This is not as easy as it looks because the fact is, companies are run by people. I have just one active account that speaks both for me and my company. I don’t have to split my identity or worry about whether I’ve tweeted from the correct account. If you use just one account, refrain from tweeting too much about yourself. While we all have interesting things going on in our personal lives, prospective bosses/clients won’t care that we just brought a new goldfish home. Keep the ‘signal-to-noise’ ratio high.

When someone follows me, I almost always follow them back and I send a direct message that thanks them and says something regarding their profile. I may point out that we’re in the same town, know the same twitter users or refer to a recent tweet of theirs. Our brains are wired to better remember those people who acknowledged our existence or our environment.

The last piece of advice I have is to be yourself. No one can keep up an act forever and there’s no point trying to make your online persona different from you. In most businesses, people end up meeting you offline. If you’ve embellished what you can do when online, you’re bound to give yourself away sooner or later. Rather than pretending to be anyone else, from your very first tweet you should simply say what comes naturally.