You have finally decided to step into the world that is Twitter? Is this business or personal? Well, either way I am a firm believer that you don't enjoy what you are doing you won't stick with it long enough to reap the benefits. Here are some basics on where to start.
First make sure you set up your profile. Include a good bio about yourself, a picture, and a link to your website. If you have time to make a nice background that matches your company's branding, by all means do so. You are working with a little less real estate with the "new Twitter" layout, but there is still some room to do some neat stuff.
Go out there and find some people that you think you might be interested in. For example, if you are a tourism based business, start following some of the local visitors bureaus, chambers, avid travelers, local bloggers, etc. Then go beyond local. If you are a small business in a rural area staying local is pointless. You have the entire world at your hand expand. Follow the leaders of your industry news, non-local bloggers, people you find interesting in general...you get the point. Follow some people and start getting yourself interested in the action. Pay attention to the recommendations given to you by Twitter for 'Similar to ______." That is a great way to find new people. Also, take a look at the favorite people you follow and see who they are following. Most of the reputable Twitter users are selective on who they decide to follow back. They are generally people that have something good to say.
Don't be shy. Twitter is for conversation. Reply to people, answer their questions and ask your own questions. If you have interesting things to add to the conversation you will start to get followers back. If you are following people in your industry, you should have at least something to say about the subject. You can have some interesting conversations about your favorite things with people you would have never met without a 'social' atmosphere.
Sounds like the same as before, right? It's similar, but I mean communicate what you have to say. Don't make everything a sales pitch because people don't want to hear that. Also, make it a little more thoughtful than what you are eating for breakfast or what color your socks are. Share industry data, funny stories, tips of the trade, and just thoughtful information. That is what people like to read. If you engage in other's conversation and also communicate what you have to say, you can then be successful at something you have learned to enjoy.
Having a large Twitter following does not happen overnight. It's also not about the numbers. If you can have a smaller loyal following you will be more successful than if you just have a bunch of followers that are only following you because you followed them. Stick with it for more than 2 weeks and you may just be surprised at how much you enjoy it!