Don't Twitter? It's optional now , but not for too long

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Ever find yourself wondering what toothpaste flavor a perfect stranger prefers? No? This and many other questionably useful pieces of information are shared by people in real time on the Web sensation, Twitter.

This should lead you to the obvious conclusion that your business should be using Twitter. Not convinced? An online social network that elicits this level of engagement from its users is a force to be reckoned with. The question isn’t "Why are people telling the world about their toothpaste preferences?" but rather "How can a business get customers to evangelize their product the same way they’re preaching about cool wintermint toothpaste?"

It’s called micro-blogging. Short updates shared with the world. The only limit is that messages can’t exceed 140 characters in length. When people decide to "follow" you they will receive your updates. You receive the updates of those whom you choose to follow.

Twitter has some work to do on providing a more relevant user experience (i.e. ways to filter out messages about toothpaste flavors) but they’re taking strides to that end. The success stories coming from businesses using Twitter are about customer interaction. They’re handling customer service issues and sales inquiries in a direct and open format on Twitter. Power companies give updates on outages, retailers announce special offers and technology companies provide product support. All in front of a live audience. Can I get an amen for free advertising?

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Here’s the bottom line: the Twitter audience is growing, and before long customers will expect you to be there.

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