twitter bird follow meOf all the social media marketing tactics, Twitter has been the one that seems to elude most CEOs. So, how can Twitter possibly promote brand awareness and increase sales for my business? To get to that  end result, let’s start at the beginning.

Like Facebook, Twitter can be used to post updates and useful information in real-time. And like Facebook’s “Become A Fan” functionality, consumers and businesses can “Follow” your tweets on Twitter. Tweets are quick hits in 140 characters or less, which means that everyone is forced to “get to the point”. Essentially, Twitter offers the ability to build a simplified network of strategic partners and consumers interested in what you have to share. No ads, no cause invitations, no photos. Just relevance and opportunity abound.

Develop a Realistic “Tweet Plan”

According to the State of the Twittersphere report, each day about 10,000 new people join Twitter, with a total estimate of over 18 million users in 2010. As a general rule of thumb, professionals should tweet at least 3 times a day. Hey, we’re talking real-time here, not yesterday’s news! Tweeting once per month won’t garner many followers, so my suggestion would be to create a social media marketing strategy.

First, determine if you have the resources to use Twitter strategically – either internally (with employees), or externally (by hiring a firm that offers social media management).

Of all your tweets, 90% should be informative and useful to your followers. Think links to relevant articles, interesting statistics, re-tweets of industry-specific information from other professionals. Reserve the other 10% of tweets for company press like posts about new hires, exclusive offers, recent projects. Starting to get the overall picture?

Twitter for Entrepreneurs

Though many of us don’t allocate enough time or resources to social media, there are some really creative uses for Twitter, especially for entrepreneurs. I’ve personally connected with other SEO experts to learn about their online tools and to keep up with the latest in search engine optimization. I’ve shared our exclusive discount for Facebook Fans with our Followers via Direct Message on Twitter, which led to several new Fans and a new web development client from Twitter just last month.

The days of cold calling or emailing someone you don’t know aren’t exactly over, but they’re less effective than ever before. Twitter can get your company in front of prospects, industry experts and high profile professionals who you may not have had the opportunity to encounter otherwise. Follows can lead to direct messages, which can lead to personal conversations, collaborations or even sales. It’s in the cultivation of the relationship that determines how short- or long-term that relationship may be. As a CEO, by now you know how important strategic relationships are for maximum growth. Twitter should definitely be an integral part of that growth strategy!

Your Twitter Experience, Maximized!

You can also use Twitter to compliment your Facebook Fan Page, saving time and resources by linking the two to update simultaneously with the Twitter for Facebook application.

Using Twitter’s “Direct Message” feature, you can send private messages to any of your followers. Sending an initial “Thanks for the follow…” type of message makes a good first impression and creates a personal connection. Just don’t overdo direct messaging with salesy self-promotion.

TwitterFox enables you to view tweets in a pop-up menu within your Firefox web browser. No need to login to feed your need. And TweetLater lets you schedule your tweets in advance, which is a definite time-saver – but keep in mind that the point is real-time. Use Twitter Search to find out who’s tweeting and re-tweeting (RT) about your business.

Last, but not least, I’ve found New York Times Bestseller, Chris Brogan’s blog on 50 Ideas on Using Twitter very useful. I hope you do too!

Kelly Campbell is President and Creative Director of Liqui-Site Designs, Inc. [www.liqui-site.com], an award-winning, NY-based brand marketing firm she founded at the age of 23. She also hosts the popular weekly podcast, Holistic Health & Wellness, among the Top 20 shows in Alternative Health (iTunes). Kelly, and/or her work, has been featured on numerous radio programs, AOL Health, and in the New York Times, Woman Entrepreneur and Forbes Magazine.