I have a tendency to explain things using metaphors and analogies. (I probably rely on it a little too much.) In keeping with that pattern, recently I have been telling some business owners that Twitter is similar to a library, and every account is a different book on the shelf. So if they want to have an effective Twitter account they need to be the book that has the best information, and the one people keep pulling off the shelf to use. This is an over simplification of Twitter, but it seems help them in understand the unique aspects of Twitter. Especially businesses that think Twitter is only about telling people what you are doing.
Twitter started out as that, but has developed into a place to share and receive information, and through that information exchange, relationships and trust are developed.
This is similar to how non-fiction books gain popularity. Typically the books that are engaging and have great information are the ones people come to respect. This leads to the author being seen as an authority.
So how does a business become the best “book” in the Twitter library? Well for one you don't talk about yourself, or the great offers you have this weekend. (Remember I said book not Newspaper insert!) Instead you give back to the Twitter community by providing information they can't get elsewhere. You give insights on your brand and category that establishes you as the leader in your category.
Some of it should even be customer service information exchanged with people that need help. These are the real FAQ questions people want to see on your website, and provide great insight people can’t find elsewhere.
The nice thing about Twitter is that all this information doesn’t need to originate with you. You can aggregate information from other people including competitors and share that information if you think it will benefit your “readers” as long as you reference the original source.
The best part is that Twitter is not just one way form of communication like a traditional book. Instead it is two way which leads to a deeper relationship with your audience than a book author could ever have with a few book signings.
Ok, so Twitter is like a library, provide great information and develop trust with your audience and you will become an authority on a topic. That’s the easy part, the hard part is finding a topic to "write" about that people are going to pay attention to.
There are many great books out there that people don’t read because the topics just aren’t that interesting.