twitter-man-of-the-year-thumbI recently heard rumors that Time Magazine may name “Twitter” as their annual “Person Of The Year”.

True or not, the fact that Twitter is even being considered for the title is testament to the power and influence that the real-time micro-blogging platform has achieved. The fact that Twitter was used during the uprisings in Iran earlier this year as a way to smuggle out news in 140 character eye-witness reports was enough to erase any doubts that whatever Twitter becomes, it is NOT a passing fad that will fade away anytime soon.

Add to the fact that Twitter has become a part of the lexicon, with phrases like “tweeting”, “tweeps” and “twitterverse”, well, it all gets a bit overwhelming, particularly for business users.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

While we could discuss and debate the value and meaning of Twitter for years to come, what, specifically, does Twitter mean for your business?

As I’ve been discussing in some of my recent workshops that include topics involving social media marketing, Twitter can be many things. And yes, Twitter should be considered one of the tools in your strategic marketing toolkit.

HOW IS TWITTER A STRATEGIC BUSINESS TOOL?

Here are three broad areas that I think are evolving for Twitter as a strategic business tool which we’ll explore in more detail in subsequent posts:

1.  Monitor The Conversation:  Twitter allows you to see who is “tweeting” about your brand.  Learn what people are saying, both good and bad, about your company and use it to your advantage.  By using the hash tag search capability you can aggragate, in real-time, what people around the world are saying about your brand.  A great free tool to put some teeth in your tweeting?  Check out HOOTSUITE.com

2.  Start A Conversation:  Using the same hash tag capabilities (#) you can search for keyword phrases that are being used to discuss areas of business where you want to attract prospects and have your business compete.  Use hash tag keywords purposefully to inject yourself in conversations where you want to be found.  On Twitter, you are the company you keep.  A great tool for researching hash tags?  Check out hashtags.org.

3.  Spread the Conversation:  Use Twitter to spread your content and the content of others whose messages you deem worthy, by tweeting content to your followers.  Following solid Internet marketing principles that I firmly believe in, generate or promote content that has VALUE for your readers.  Become a fountain of good info, links, free tools, industry news, tips and other information and before long you’ll find your tweets being retweeted to thousands of other people and followers.

Because with Twitter, as in more real-world, face-to-face networking, it’s not necessarily who you know.  It’s who knows who you know.

Twitter allows you to exploit that premise exponentially.