By Jessica Hodkinson, Online PR consultant at Blueclaw and blogs at www.prcompany.org.uk

If you are a small business tapping into the world of twitter start thinking about why you want to use it? How you want to use it and why?

It is a very strong communication tool and you are more than likely to receive a fast and immediate response from those who follow you and generate a buzz around your company within a short space of time. However you need to be active on a regular basis because if you leave it dormant for a long time- it will just generally become wasted and somewhat pointless.

Have you set up a profile but don’t have any followers? Spend a day or two adding people that you may want to follow. These could be industry specific or just relatively interesting. Either way the more you follow- the more you get, so for example follow 10 and you will just get the one back.

There are many free directories like http://wefollow.com/ or http://www.tweetfind.com/ that you can join to make the rest of the twitter clang aware of your company/ new website. It is also worth looking at other people who may be worth following.

Promoting your business

Run a simple Competition

If you have a product that is feasible to give away, run a quick and simple twitter comp where you simply set a question and ask other to tweet the answer to win. For example if you are a travel client you may ask people ‘to tweet their favourite destination’ to win a weekend break for two. However the more innovative you can be the better.

This works well if you are giving away a fairly decent prize and you can find the right influencers to spread the word about your product. You could also set up a competition directly from your website and use Twitter along with Facebook to promote this to others, generating link backs to your website. If you ask bloggers to mention your competition on their website, they will more than likely tweet it and their followers may catch on to it.

Show you are active and you care about the world

Tweet about interesting engaging topics in your industry niche. You might have a special offer to promote or new members of your team to shout about.

Run a debate on Tweetchat and show that you have the capability to influence others in your field. Tweetchat is a great way of speaking with other Twit-Arians, especially in the area of Marketing and PR. You can choose a topic and chair a specific discussion online. Hashtags identify specific topics and those hashtags allow TweetChat to connect you with the people invited to participate on tweetchat.

Monitor Twitter

If twitter becomes a communication channel then make sure you monitor it on a regular basis and answer any queries that are raised by loyal followers. Twitter provides quick and instant communication and this is what people are more aware of. Twitter makes it easier to manage and develop your relationships with these people.

Search for tweets and answer specific questions to show you care about what is happening in your industry and show you are interested in helping ‘others’ with information and decisions.

If you run a local business, you can search tweets from specific locations on relevant topics, and find potential customers as well as local people to connect with. Get to the advanced search page here: http://search.twitter.com/advanced .

If you find that your Twitter page is becoming cluttered, try and clear it with a simple-free tool www.manageflitter.com/following.php-.

You can manage who is following you and who you should be following. Get rid of spam followers and anyone who may cause you more trouble than good.