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Have you tried Twitter and just don’t get it? You’re not alone.

Social networking evangelists praise the microblogging service as a great
means for connecting with customers and getting feedback on products and
services. The
free service has attracted scores of media personalities, athletes and
celebrities. Even President Obama (or his staff) uses Twitter.
And
recently Salesforce.com announced it will integrate Twitter into a version of
its cloud-based CRM application to give
users direct feedback from customers.

Despite the praise and endorsements, many businesses have yet to unlock
Twitter’s power—assuming it exists at all.

Twitter’s basic framework is the opening of unidirectional communications
that happen in bursts. Each post is limited to 140 characters per post,
compelling users to keep their messages concise and to the point. What has
evolved though is users posting TinyURLs that point readers back to their Websites
for deeper explanations of their often cryptic microblogs.

While this sounds like a winning recipe, many business users and solution
providers Channel Insider has spoken with say they’ve had limited success with
Twitter, Facebook or MySpace when it comes to connecting with the market and
building communities. Even the professional-oriented LinkedIn is more about
swapping information about jobs than commerce, they say.

Capitalizing on the Twitter phenomenon takes time, persistence and strategy.
Based on conversations with Twitter users and information gathered from various
social networking posts, here are a few tips for getting the most out of
Twitter:

1) Be Authentic: The magic of social networking is honest and open
communications. Don’t try too hard to present yourself in the best, most
flattering light. Authenticity helps build audience affinity.

2)  Mix Business with Pleasure: Not everything has to be about
business, products or services. Social networking is often about sharing
information and insights. The community appreciates commentary and alerts from
multiple sources about multiple topics. What you post doesn’t always have to be
about your domain expertise. Go ahead and get off topic from time to time.

3) Stake a Position: Some people will say that you should be
controversial to get attention. That’s not always the best strategy, since
anything you say will—one way or another—reflect upon you personally and your
business. A better bit of advice is to stake an opinion or position that’s
based in logic, reason or personal conviction. The community doesn’t reward the
middle-of-the-road statements or contrived controversy.

4) Persistence Pays: Don’t think for a moment that you can post a
message to Twitter and the world will flock to your microblog doorstep. You
must make Twitter posting a part of your daily routine. Set times of the day
when you’ll post something, and don’t hold back from posting if something
strikes your fancy. On Twitter, volume equals activity, and activity gets
attention.

These are just a few tips for capitalizing on the Twitter. While
the Twitter phenomenon is likely short-lived
, solution providers would
be unwise to ignore it. Twitter is a good way to make your business’s presence known
in the social networking world and promote personal brands. Use it while it’s
still hot.