Here you are. On Twitter. Yikes. Starting off on Twitter is a bit like walking into the wrong wedding.

You have (virtually) no idea what to say or what to do. Standing there lost. Who to follow? Why to follow them? Who is going to follow you? Why would they?

This isn’t Facebook where you look up all of your friends and connect.
This isn’t LinkedIn where you look up all of your colleagues, partners, and customers and connect.

No fun familiar easy-to-find faces here …

You’ve stumbled into a Douglas Adams-esque alternate universe where people attempt to communicate in 140 characters. Or Less! Even more bizarre?Everyone ELSE seems to know whats going on. It looks as though most users understand what is being said and the entire platform is really catching on.

Why is this? Are we all A.D.D.?

This is not to trivialize the condition; it’s a sincere question. Brevity has become the preferred method to communicate complete thoughts.

Emoticons, text messages, and Tweets have replaced lengthy posts on Facebook or e-mail’s complete sentences. Twitter allows users to consume massive amounts of information quickly and conveniently. It might also become the core of both your social media and information gathering worlds.

So you dive into the Twitterverse, figure who, why and what and you start to gather and audience and find your place as a member of the audience for others.

This may shock you but I am not the first person to broach this topic. It has been covered by those “In the business”; principals of digital marketing and social marketing organizations. Tackled by those who have been using social media since “Friendster” who don’t remember being the new kid on the block.

However, I’m a business practitioner and in my industry social media is rarely used, seen as gimmicky, and not respected as a viable marketing tool. My involvement in social media was sparked primarily by my age and my desire to expand my horizons.

Once you have 5K, 10K or 100K followers, you’re pretty much in the groove of Twitter; it’s much easier and, I imagine, becomes quite fun and measurable.

The toughest part is getting started, getting momentum, keeping momentum, and making it meaningful for you.

Throughout my eight months on Twitter, I’ve discovered 5 meaningful ways to win friends and create influence on Twitter

1. Authenticity:

Be you, be real. People are amazingly cognizant of others that are not being the genuine article. Don’t try to be all things to all people, and certainly don’t fake it. Be sincere while maintaining a kind diplomacy in your exchanges with others. You don’t have to agree with everyone but politely agreeing to disagree is wise.

2. Curate with Care:

Try to create and share content that is relevant for the network you have and the brand that you are trying to be.

3. Chats:

Finding chats that discuss your areas of interest or expertise are a great way to meet others who will serve as resources, friends, or an extended network. If you aren’t familiar with chats there are many great resources for Twitter Chats. Here’s a link to a listing: Twitter Chats

4. Engage:

Talk to people, respond to people, Retweet interesting content. Be grateful, show respect. Act as you would in real life. Act as though it is Real Life … BECAUSE IT IS!

5. Automate:

I saved the most controversial for last. Please do not mistake this for a recommendation to fill your stream with Spam. I’m just suggesting that you can’t be on Twitter all of the time but the conversation keeps going. If you can share good content all day long you will keep many of your followers thinking of you, and talking to you. Just like email, it is okay to respond later, and like email not too much later.

Whatever you do, just stick with it. I promise you it’s worth the effort!