In case you have missed it, Twitter is a revolutionary micro blogging and social networking platform that is fast gaining popularity around the globe. At last count, nearly 200 million people were using Twitter to connect with friends, colleagues, business associates, and even celebrities.

However, it is hard to call Twitter a competitor of Facebook, or even classify them in the same category, because they are just so different.

Like Facebook, Twitter is about social networking, and it allows you to connect with people you know, but that is where the similarities end. Whereas Facebook allows users to post long status updates, all Twitter messages are one hundred and forty characters or shorter.

While Twitter also allows you to repost Tweets by other users, or respond or comment on posts, most users find that unlike Facebook, where the majority of their contacts are known (family, friends and colleagues), on Twitter, most people follow people they have never met before.

As a business application, Twitter offers possibilities for staying in contact with clients and business associates, as well as marketing, and keeping up with industry news. Being able to link to websites, photos and other content also makes it a valuable means of sharing information, and because many countries allow you to Tweet from your mobile phone, it’s both mobile and easy to use anywhere.

Let us take a closer look at how Twitter works.

The first step, once you have registered a Twitter account, is to create your user profile. You can add a profile picture, or your company logo, as well as information about yourself, your business, and your website. You can choose to include contact details, or leave them out, and you can include your interests and other information.

Once your Twitter profile is complete, the next step is to add your contacts. These could be anyone from family and friends to clients or even people you admire, but have never met. Adding people on Twitter is known as ‘following’ and instead of ‘friends’ like you would have on Facebook, on Twitter, you have followers. Each of those followers will receive your Tweets, when you send them, and Tweets by anyone you follow will appear in your news feed.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let us look at how you can use Twitter to benefit your business.

The first method is to follow people who work in your industry, or a related one. For instance, if you own a hotel, then you might choose to follow people who are involved in tour companies, or those who write travel reviews. This keeps you up to date with industry news, and opens up the potential for new business.

Another great option is to encourage your customers to follow you on Twitter. That way, when you have special offers, new products or services, or updates to your website, you can share them quickly and easily with all of your followers.

Because Twitter allows you to create lists, it is also possible to categories your followers, or those people that you are following, into lists or groups, and to reply to a group or list, instead of an individual. That means it is easier to reach more people with a single Tweet.

With the announcement of selective Tweets, and advertising option on Twitter that was launched in 2010, there is another form of advertising opening up to business owners on Twitter, but it remains to be seen how well it will compete against Adsense and the advertising options on other social networking platforms. Still, it is always nice to know that there is yet another alternative.

Possibly Twitter’s greatest assets, in terms of marketing and business, is that each Tweet is merely 140 characters, and that you can Tweet from anywhere, if your mobile is enabled. This makes it perfect for small business owners who are trying to fit online marketing into their already busy schedules.

Add to that the link building potential of the site, and it is easy to see why it is becoming known as a business marketing tool. So if you are not already Tweeting about your business, and your news, then why not sign up and give it a try? You might just find that you find new business, and a even a few opportunities, or that you learn from people that inspire you!

Author's Bio: 

Andrew McCombe is the owner of Activate Your Business where they teach new and existing business owners to Start, Grow and / or Automate their business(es) with EASE, so they can live a life of EASE. For more information and to get a free copy of the 10 EASY Steps to Your Perfect Business EBook, visit http://www.activateyourbusiness.com.au