You can't ignore Twitter's explosive growth -- up 700 percent worldwide from last year. Just last week, comScore posted these growth statistics and outlined the demographic profile of Twitter users. The conversation is only going to get bigger. The more you know how to use this tool, the more effective you'll become.
More Tools: TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop
Last week I mentioned that new tools would surface over time to help enhance your Twitter experience. I didn't think it would happen so fast, though!
Seesmic Desktop, and updated version of Twhirl, is the newest competitor to TweetDeck. Fans of TweetDeck will probably like Seesmic Desktop because it has similar features. The one thing that differentiates Seesmic Desktop from TweetDeck is that it allows you to manage multiple accounts where TweetDeck only allows you one.
Both of these tools will probably duke it out as time goes on and gain more features. To read more about these tools, check out Mashable's comparison of these tools.
Parting Words of Wisdom
As you advance from novice to power Twitterer, let me leave you with some final words of advice and more tips and tools to help you along your way.
First, think of others before yourself. Give before you receive. Find relevant articles, tips, or helpful opinions and tweet about them. Then every once in a while go ahead and plug yourself or your company. This is the formula for a successful tweeting campaign.
How to Find Good Articles and the Latest News
So how can you find good current articles that you can use to share with your followers? Or maybe you just want to stay up on the latest news in real time. There are several good sources.
Here's a list of tools you should check out that leverage the Twitter network and provide you the latest buzz:
Lee Odden at TopRankBlog talks about each of these tools and also provides some helpful tips.
Another useful tool is TweetBeep. This tool allows you keep track of any keyword mentioned on Twitter. You basically set up the keywords you want to track and TweetBeep will send you any tweets included in your keyword set. This is great for reputation management, keyword research, and competition analysis.
How to Automate Twitter
If you're like me and stay busy 16 hours in the day, you might appreciate TweetLater. This excellent tool schedules your tweets so they get staggered throughout the day. People will wonder how you have the time to tweet all day long.
Another feature is the ability to set up actions like automatically following anyone who follows you. Or automatically send welcome Direct Messages (DM) to your new followers. A very handy tool.
How to Shorten and Measure Your URLs
With only 140 characters, you have limited space in which to add links to cool articles you've found. There are several URL shortening services, with more on the rise. Learn everything you need to know about each one and which is right for you in this comprehensive guide.
Furthermore, you can use tracking tools like bitly or snipurl to track CTRs. Find out how many people retweeted your post and how popular it became. Over time, you'll learn what kind of links your followers like the most.
Several people have asked how to monetize Twitter. This topic is on everyone's mind lately. It isn't as straightforward as anyone would like, but new models are emerging.
For business uses, "Twitter: The Local Monetization Strategy" provides some helpful ideas. Twitter might not be a strategy in and of itself, but it's a great tool to support many of your Internet marketing efforts and can be very effective.
That's it for this beginner's guide to Twitter. I've enjoyed pulling all of these tips, tools, and resources together for you. Follow me on Twitter (@ron_jones) and we can continue the conversation. I'll be happy to answer any questions or discuss new tools and uses for Twitter.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!