Can you really get smarter and richer by using a communication tool so seemingly silly as Twitter? Can you truly improve your brand, increase web traffic and expand your social network in a way that will help your business and bank account?

The answers to these perplexing questions are revealed below in a fifteen-minutes-a-day social media strategy designed to make you a little smarter, a little richer and perhaps a lot better-looking! Disclaimer: I mean you’ll look better on Twitter.

Let’s start with an analogy to help you conceive of Twitter in a way you’ve likely never pondered. Imagine a genie granted you three gifts. First, you were given a TV station that would broadcast your programs around the clock; second, you were given the interactive capabilities of a national radio talk show; and third, you were invited to a non-stop, year-round, 24-hour cocktail party.

The potential of Twitter is like merging these three gifts into one small package: with Twitter, you can broadcast interesting tidbits of information around the clock, you can chat and interact like a radio talk show host anytime you desire, and all that business and social networking that used to take place on the golf course, neighborhood gatherings, church and yes, even cocktail parties is now in full swing, all day, every day, on Twitter.

This new marketing phenomenon is as exciting as it is challenging. Yes, you have a TV station, but now you need programs to air. Yes, you can chat with people from around the world, but how much time can you devote to that? And yes, it’s a perpetual cocktail party, but you can get a hangover just thinking about it!

With opportunity comes challenge, and therein lies the need for a realistic Twitter strategy. Here are seven tips that will get you started in just fifteen minutes a day:

1. Shoot for ten to fifty tweets a day. Research suggests that twenty-four tweets a day optimizes your exposure in social media, provided that your tweets are interesting, high-quality and broadly spaced, and that you add the human interactive touch (when time permits). With Twitter, people do not read your previous week’s tweets; you are either “on the air” or out of sight—and out of mind.

2. Develop a following. How? Be you, only notch it up a bit. Be more humorous, more social, more sexy, more original, more everything. (But not more obnoxious.) Also, use a validation service, such as TrueTwit.com, to make sure your followers are human beings and not robots.

3. Repurpose your existing content into high quality tweet sets and schedule them for reruns (yes, just like a TV station schedules program reruns). A tweet set is a series of tweets you prepare one time from content you already have (articles, blog posts, e-books, product benefits, etc.) and set up for recurring tweets in a tweet scheduler (for example: budurl.com/schedulemytweets). I recommend tweet sets of at least fifty tweets per topic so that they can be scheduled to run one per week for a whole year without duplication.

4. Create as many tweet sets as you can from knowledge you have in your head. As a networker, you are an expert in what you do. With a little effort you can crystallize your knowledge into a few sets of tweets that provide tips, how-to and expertise. You’ll actually feel yourself getting smarter as you do this. Nothing is better for honing your knowledge than breaking it down into bite-size, maximum-140-character snippets. Remember, if you can’t quite squeeze an idea into 140 characters, or if you need to show a video or picture, Twitter allows you to add short links in any tweet you create. Once done, add your new tweet sets to your scheduler (again, one tweet per week is a good frequency to avoid duplicate tweets).

5. Post daily spontaneous tweets, but try to think ahead about the possibility of rerunning some of these. A tweet should have a shelf life of longer than one hour. If your tweet will be just as interesting next week or next month, give it an afterlife and rerun it using your tweet scheduler. If you do this, your daily spontaneous tweets will begin to layer into an ever-vibrant Twitter timeline that everyone will enjoy—and it won’t consume much time. Twitter does have a policy against spam-like repeat tweets, so avoid repeating duplicate tweets close together (especially tweets with links). Rerunning a tweet several weeks apart is a conservative schedule.

6. Retweet the good stuff you find. Retweeting is just like forwarding an interesting email along to a bunch of friends, and it’s a great way to augment your Twitter timeline with more good content. Retweeting will also win you the appreciation of those whose tweets you’ve retweeted. Is it okay to put some of your favorite retweets into a scheduler? The answer is yes. If it was interesting enough to retweet today, it should be just as interesting to your future followers next month. Do it with prudence, but do it.

7. Mix it up. Just as a plumber can’t go to a cocktail party and talk pipes and drippy faucets all night without getting banished to the powder room with a monkey wrench, so it is with Twitter. You can’t be myopic in what you Tweet about. An interesting cocktail party conversation might include the sharing of jokes, recipes, stories, quotes, gossip, sports, you name it. (Often in actual cocktail parties, your professional expertise never comes up at all.) It is this quirk of Twitter that opens the door for adding interesting “filler” tweets. You can create your own tweet sets of jokes and quotes or, if you prefer to work smart, you can subscribe to high-quality syndicated tweet content that will make you the life of the party. One such service is Twyndication.com.

Add this all up and you have one of the most dynamic, nonstop marketing and networking tools ever to hit the Internet or mobile web. With this fifteen-minutes-a-day strategy in place, you’ll have time to interact socially (as social media requires) and fill your 24-hour timeline with high-quality, interesting tweets so that no matter when a follower tunes in, you’ll be “on the air” with cocktail in hand.

DAN HOLLINGS is an Internet, Mobile and Twitter strategist.
www.networkingtimes.com/link/hollings