Regarding building your list of whom you are following and your followers, there are automated ways to communicate with everyone, that there are pros and cons to automated tools, and they can always be augmented with manual (i.e. real interaction).
Direct Message Box
When someone is nice enough to follow you in Twitter, even if in response to you following them, basic good manners suggest you thank them. So please do respond to them. If you are using automated means to build your lists, you will quickly be overwhelmed with too many messages to personally respond to. This is when automated tools are helpful. A bit of searching the internet will give you many tools to choose from. No matter the tool you choose, they will each have a tool to automate your responses to your direct messages. Part of setting up the automation in any of these tools, is preparing a list of 140 character responses, thanking those that follow you. The set up and configuration of your list might vary from site to site, but the idea is the same for every tool. In your 140 character messages, remember that folks are following you because you’ve expressed interest in what they are up to. Continue that interest in your responses. Remember, you are at the very beginning of building a relationship with them. Don’t try to sell your opportunity too soon. That said, feel free to include shortened links to your business sites ( will help here, shortening your links so you can make the best use of your 140 characters) in a context of shared interest, rather than premature, hard selling.
As you are thanking others for following you, you will receive many thank you messages as well. This is where the relationship building continues. Reach out to those thank you notes that most resonate with you. Ask them how they are using Twitter to market their businesses. Offer an introductory free consultation. Send them a complementary bit of content. Check in with them occasionally to see how they are. You know, just like you would with a friend.
Yea! Your list is building nicely, you’re seeing more traffic to your website, your conversion rate from Twitter is improving nicely. Now your inbox is swamped. These same tools will help you quickly purge your direct message box.
Social networks generally being, well, social, and Tweeting in particular, this is where the relationship building really begins. Regular tweets are the ticket. Ideally, several times a day. Again, the tools listed above can automate this process as well with the usual pros/cons. Automated tools have a similar spinning message feature mentioned in the Direct Message section. This spinning messages will be in a similar format of a list of 140 character messages. To be compliant with Twitter rules (and thus keeping your account open) the ratio of marketing tweets to non-marketing is about 1:4. Marketing tweets would include those that link back to your business sites, blogs, videos, etc. You also want to build a long list of tweets, as Twitter doesn’t take kindly to excessive repetition of messages. I would started with a list of 20 tweets, with a 1:4 ratio of marketing to to non-marketing tweets, and build your list 20 tweets a day and reload your list into whatever tool you’re using. Another part of automating your tweets is to set up scheduling and frequency of your tweets.
As with everything discussed so far, just because you automate a fair amount of your Twitter marketing efforts, you and your followers will be well served with manual tweets from you. Read what other people are tweeting about. If someone shares something interesting to you, share the love and re-tweet. Remember, this is a social medium. So go be social!
Now that you have the basics of building your list of followers by following those with similar interests as you and building relationships with that list using a combination of automated tools and good old fashioned manual effort, you can start experimenting with marketing your business on Twitter. As you become more comfortable with the tools and as you continue to build your list you will naturally progress to fine tuning your marketing message to better coordinate with your other marketing platforms and campaigns.
So go forth, get out there and introduce yourself to people, share your information, build the relationships and build your business and have a great time doing it.