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Right now, Twitter is the talk of the Web among marketers. Use of the elegantly simple social-media site has rocketed unlike anything in recent memory—and it's businesses that are leaping onto the Twitter bandwagon.

The New York Times calls Twitter "one of the fastest growing phenomena on the Internet." A recent study (pdf) determined that at least five million people are using the service and new members are signing up at a clip of 10,000 per day. And unlike other "here today, gone tomorrow" services, Twitter seems to have staying power.

As companies tighten their ad spending, inexpensive social media is clearly the next marketing frontier. As with any new craze, there are enormous opportunities—and large pitfalls that must be avoided.

For this article, I spoke to some marketing professionals who've been exploring the Twitter terrain for a while. My quest was to identify the Twitter landmines so you can fast-track your adventure into this vast new frontier.

But, first, a short story to convey the power of Twitter.

The Shot Seen Around the World

Remember the downed plane floating on the Hudson river? How could anyone forget the picture of people crowded on the wing as the plane gently floated in the frigid January waters.

Janis Krums was nearby as US Air flight 1549 fell from the sky that day. Just moments after the crash, while onboard an approaching ferry, Janis snapped a picture with his iPhone and posted the following on Twitter:

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image of Michael Stelzner

Michael A. Stelzner is the author of Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them EngagedFollow Michael on Twitter.