Twitter is one of the most rapidly adopted social media outlets on the Internet, and it's growing by leaps and bounds each day. There is enormous value in just being a part of the conversations that are happening on Twitter, regardless of what your goals are for the channel.
However, if you are on Twitter to represent your company, your boss will probably soon ask you to prove the value that your tweets have to your business, if he or she hasn't already asked.
So how do you know whether your followers are listening or whether you're just tweeting in the wind? How do you know whether tweets about topic X have more or less value than tweets about topic Y?
There are several tools for measuring engagement on Twitter, and even some homemade algorithms.
But the first step is always to define your goals. Then, as with any channel that is part of your overall marketing strategy, you'll be able to make smarter decisions about your Twitter content stream, the types of "following" behavior, how you represent yourself and your brand, and more.
For marketers, Twitter is an extension of everything you do from a branding and PR perspective. To supplement your blog posts, you might tweet about today's topic and post a tinyURL back to your corporate site. To generate more eyeballs and potential sales, you could tweet about the special deal you just sent to your email subscribers. To make more personal connections and network with influencers, you can even live-tweet your whereabouts or provide real-time feedback at industry events.
None of these will aid your marketing plans, however, if you're not speaking to the right people.
To grow your network on Twitter, start by using the site's own search function and use keywords that are relevant to your overall business's target audiences.