When you’re tweeting to promote your business the first thing some people do is start spewing marketing speak about how great their company is and why it’s the be-all end-all and I should go get it right now!

This isn’t the best way to get your message out. Twitter, like most other social networks is all about the followers and less about the person or the company who owns the account.

So what DO you tweet about to market your product and grow a following who will help spread the word about your product or service?

1. You don’t need to tweet “I’m a real estate agent”. Let them get that from your profile. Instead talk about local news, events or tweet up another Twitter user who just wrote a blog post about something related.

2. Remember the 80/20 rule. 80% of what you tweet about should be about someone else and only 20% about you. Oh and no cheating on that. The article that was about you in the local business section? Even if you say “Hey, @newspaperguy great article about short-sale agents (link)” and link to the article about you, that’s part of the 20%, not the 80.

3. Find sites that talk about your market/finance/local events or even restaurants and link to their blog posts. Share valuable links with your users and they will remember where they got it. You want to become an information resource, not a billboard.

3. Be funny. (I said funny not bawdy). Sharing funny videos, cartoons or stories you find online is entertaining and a lot easier on a site like Twitter than it is on email. People click on things on Twitter they would delete without opening in email. Don’t ask me why. Don’t do it too much, but one a day or so is fine.

4. Think before you post. Would somebody bookmark this bit of information? Cool, post it. Will it start a discussion or add value to an ongoing discussion? Cool again, add it.

5. Answer questions. This can not be over-stated. If you want to make friends with someone watch for them to ask for a solution to a problem and provide it. I don’t care if you have to Google it or call somebody, find a way to be helpful.

6. Be nice. Everybody hates a grump. It’s OK to have grumpy moments but if you’re spewing garbage all over the place why would somebody want to follow you?

7. If you can’t think of anything to talk about you’re not trying hard enough. Use a site like Lazyfeed to provide you with fresh, hot-off-the-presses information and blogs you can comment on or add to your mix of posts on Twitter.

8. Talk about yourself. Got a cool hobby or like the SF Giants? Sharing your hobbies and passions gives people something to connect to you with. Reach out to other people who share the same values and they will generally reciprocate.

9. Share your toys. Have you fond an amazing gadget or application that makes your life easier/richer or go more smoothly? Everybody loves this stuff.

10. Congratulate people on their successes. Who doesn’t need a pat on the back? If someone you want to know or already do writes a blog post that makes a difference, say so. Did thy post they finally got a new job, had a baby or finally got their PHD? Chip in the huzzahs.

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