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There are many ways small town business owners and independent contractors can use Twitter.
Of course, in this era of stream n' scream and fast-food friending, most folks want to see instant results. So with respect to the "law of the harvest" here are some ways the small folks can level the conversation station that Twitter is:
70-20-10 – It's a formula I've coached for years. Our Twitter mantra is 70-20-10. Split your messaging up with this ratio: 70% Resource Sharing; 20% Chit-Chat n' How's Your Cat; 10% Pimp Your Stuff. Most folks do it in reverse. Don't. Be the Resource.
Hashtags – Consider these labels. They help categorize your tweets and make you more findable in searches. They can also be valuable to you for RTing or following others Further Reading: Hashtags Demystified
Searches – You can save Twitter searches and periodically go back on look. You can search for hashtags or "phrases that are important" by using quotation marks around a specific phrase.
Lists – By creating lists, you are creating a resource for yourself and others, and also creating a bit of good will to those you place on the list. The list should be more a resource to your audience than a bait to those you list. More on How to Use Twitter Lists
RT Others – As you find valuable tweets to share, it's best to ReTweet manually (not the ReTweet button). Remember, it's about your audience first; the person you RT second; and you are third. How-To: ReTweet on Twitter
Paper.li – Create your own daily online newspaper (or follow someone else's) with this cool tool. There are many ways to customize paper.li, so feel free to experiment and gauge your success. Dive Deeper: Follow Smart People 5 Ways with Paper.li
ReSked & ReTweet – Using a tool like HootSuite or another Twitter scheduling tool, you can take your best Tweets (even the RTs of others) and schedule them at various times throughout the week
Leave 20 characters – As often as possible, try to leave 17-20 characters of space in your tweets. This allows others to RT and add your name (count the RT, the @, the ___ space, and your username).
Twitter Chats – Join in and participate or create your own (using a hashtag). If you can keep up, this is a great way to engage and learn. At the end of most chats (a stream of tweets around a central topic) offer a transcript and a list of participants. Here's a tip that includes a Tweet Chat video tutorial.
There are many other tools, tips and tracking you can do – but this is a quick-start for those that are looking for creating a fast food following.