Many businesses are hearing more and more about Twitter in the mainstream media. They just can't get away from it. There is talk that Google might pay a billion dollars for the social networking site. Around inauguration, all we heard about was all the twittering happening during the speeches. And naturally, businesses are wondering how they can launch Twitter marketing campaigns. So I'm going to depart from my usual blogging about SEO services today to talk about Twitter.

Twitter marketing is a difficult topic, actually. If your business has never tried to market in a closed community before, Twitter may actually be one of the harder ones to start in. If social networking is new to you, then you first need to understand that there is an immense immunity to anything commercial in these communities. I've watched it over and over. A new member comes into a group and immediately starts making self-serving commercial-oriented statements. This is NOT how to do Twitter marketing. The outcome is the same in almost every case. The established members of the community denounce the new member as a spammer. They may be more polite (or not), but that is usually the outcome.

So what are all these people talking about when they say Twitter marketing is so successful?

The first thing to recognize, and this goes as much for a standard Internet forum as it does for Twitter, is that reputation is earned in these communities. There is a barrier to entry. These are essentially clubs of people who have been communicating with each for a long period of time. So you need to understand that coming in. If you approach them with this mindset, you will be half way there.

With hat in hand, to market in Twitter you essentially have to pay your dues. This means following, reading, thinking, and thoughtful posting. You need to be careful to avoid any overtly commercial objectives from day one. That comes later, and in a much more subtle form than you may be used to. For traditional marketers, I can see why Twitter marketing is such an enigma. They are used to television advertising where you can just put on the line - or even be intentionally over the top. But that's not very Web 2.0. This is the Internet generation in charge. They like self-deprecating humor. This is Seinfeld online.

So the strategy for Twitter marketing is ironically, not to market. At least not in the traditional sense. No. The idea is to establish credibility on a topic that is directly related to what you'd like to market. If your contributions, over time, are deemed helpful you will gain followers. These are like votes. As your follower list grows, so will the traffic from your Twitters (Tweets). And as that happens, you are all-of-a-sudden marketing based on what you are posting because it's generating traffic to the links you put in Twitter.