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Everyone is talking about Twitter now. Some question how it will sustain itself. Others wonder what the fuss is about. Some of us are totally enthralled with its use. Others can’t understand how to use it to make money.
Yet Twitter can be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing toolbox. Twitter can help you build your email list, quickly, easily and without spending a dime. Twitter is doubling in size every 90 days and is estimated to reach 50,000,000 users by Christmas.

Your list is one of your company’s best assets. Having a list of qualified leads to market to is essential in moving your business forward. Many companies purchase lists to market to—paying anywhere from $1-$10 per lead. Some businesses engage in expensive pay-per-click campaigns to generate new traffic for their websites. These tactics can be effective, but there’s another way. Use Twitter.

So how do you do it? Simple. Identify the keywords and search phrases that your prospects are using to search online for answers to their problems. Plug those keywords into a Twitter directory like Twellow or a Twitter search engine to identify the leaders in your industry. Visit their profiles. Look at the people who are following them. These are people who have already indicated an interest in your industry, who may have problems you can help solve. These could become qualified leads for your company too.

Follow them. Many of them will follow you back. (Typically, if you follow 10 people on Twitter, between 3-5 will follow you back, although that is not a hard and fast rule.) You know the adage, “people buy from people they know, like and trust”. It’s true. As you engage with your Twitter followers they will start to feel like they know you. Share information with them. Ask questions. Invite them to visit your blog or website. Offer them information or a free consultation in exchange for their email address. If they feel comfortable with you and they are interested in your offer they will provide their email address cheerfully.

My friend and Twittermmate, web marketing coach, Charles Brown, blogged about the same topic today and cautions you. Borrowing someone else’s second hand list does not guarantee success. But, providing value to your followers, demonstrating your expertise, and building relationships can.

Internet marketer, Perry Belcher, has turned this into an art form and recently held a webinar explaining his success in social media. Not just in building large lists of qualified leads to market to, but in creating a social media system that earns him approximately $1 per follower month. His use of Twitter as a list building tool has created a list of 130,000 followers who have also signed up to receive his marketing emails.

A word of warning: Twitter is not a “get rich quick” solution, no matter what anyone tells you. You will need to spend time learning to understand how to use it, getting to know your followers and developing new business relationships. Now go start tweeting! And me know if you need any help.