Well as someone who's very aware of time-wasters, I know how it could become a complete waste of time - just as any other of the Social Media sites could ... if you let them.
The important thing is to know how and why you're using it and what you expect to get from it.
If you're using it for business then you need to know how you're going to use it and how to see if it's working for you.
- Create your profile, include a bio with links to your website and add a picture or logo. Your Twitter profile is the first place people will look when they're connecting with you and deciding whether to follow you or not.
- Twitter is a form of networking - it enables you to have conversations with your clients, contacts, prospects - albeit brief conversations but it's a good way for people to get to know you.
- Tweet regularly. There's nothing worse than finding someone's profile and finding they haven't tweeted for weeks or even months. But then again - don't tweet too often. Some people seem able to churn out tweets at a rate of knots.
- Don't use too much automation. Some automation is great and there are some great Twitter apps that will make life easier by feeding your tweets into various sites without having to duplicate effort.
- @Reply and DM (direct message) people who respond to you. Connect with your followers.
- Participate, share and pass it on. Re-tweet (RT) tweets that you find are useful or interesting. If you'd like a message re-tweeted - keep it to 120 characters to make it easier to RT without having to be edited first.
- Keep it brief. Tweeting is a good discipline for keeping your message short and sweet. See just how much you can communicate in just 140 characters.
Regularly check what responses you're getting from Twitter - website traffic, enquiries, contacts, sales, customer service, increased visibility ...
A few minutes a day spent tweeting and responding should be all that's needed to establish and maintain your Twitter presence.
It's not for everyone but if you're online and using social media it should probably be part of your marketing strategy.