Choose a User Name and Profile
You will need to choose a user name. I suggest something with your name and initials versus CIOdude or some other clever moniker if you want to be taken seriously. Once youve signed up, you will need to do two more things. First, write a short biography in the Twitter settings page. This is important so that you can be found by search engines and tools. List your title and name of your company and anything else that describes your interests and will fit in the allotted space. Second, you will need to replace the generic icon with a photo. This makes things much more personal and again, tells people you are a human, not an auto-generated feed or marketer.
Follow 21 People
You need to learn about who else is out there. Here is a basic recipe for following the first 21 people. If you are already on Twitter, make sure you have mixed in some people from each of the categories:
Employees from your firm (3); Employees from competitors (3); Customers of yours or those who comment on your products/category (3); Peers within/across industries (3); Consultants/vendors you use (3); Leaders in topics that you care about (3); and General and/or industry news (3).
To find people, you will need to use a site that searches Twitter bios (http://search.twitter.com/advanced is a good place to start). You can also search for topics using keywords (company names, product names, etc.) and click through to look at the persons bio.
Search for a Hot Topic
In addition to following the posts of your 21 tweeps, you will also want to follow a few keyword searches. The easiest way to do this is to download one of the integrated Twitter applications, such as TweetDeck, based on the Adobe AIR platform. It allows you to view the posts from all of those you are following and several searches in one window. If you dont want to download anything, you can also use a browser-based Twitter search tool like TweetGrid.
Now, for the first week, set aside 15-20 minutes a day around lunch or end of the day to observe. At some point, some post will compel you to respond with a post of your own. Dont hesitate, do it! You might actually enjoy it.
Some say Twitter has already peaked. Noted tech writer Mike Elgan asks Who Killed Twitter? in a recent Datamation.com article. He cites statistics from Harvard, Neilsen, HubSpot and others that show Twitters growth tapering off and that a large portion of users are stagnant. I believe that Twitters growth numbers are slowing for two reasons: people got tired of reading and writing answers to What are you doing now?; and people expected the sizzle of MySpace and Facebook.
This growth and tapering off is a product of Twitter v1. What is emerging now is Twitter v2 with people answering a new question What am I thinking now? Combined with the API innovation, Twitter v2 presents an exciting time for more trusted, more topical and more social experiences for professionals and individuals.