Some people love Twitter, and some hate it.  It’s likely you aren’t somewhere in the middle, but if you’ve started to use it, you will find one of two things:  you either feel like a firehose has hit you and won’t stop gushing, or you are the one with the firehose and can’t manage to close down your preferred Twitter app.  Regardless, here are some tips for keeping the focus.

Yes, Shut It Off!

Twitter is a real-time communications stream, and yes, let’s admit it – you might miss something if you turn it off.  Pictures of cute kittens, or a discount coupon for your local pizza parlour.  Life goes on, ok?

If you don’t want to miss anything, create a list of the most important people, and have that be a place you check regularly.  You should also have a search column in your favorite Twitter app (I like Tweetdeck personally) for keywords related to you, your brand, your industry keywords, and your competitors.  That way it’s easy to keep track of anything going on without the noise floating around.

Remind Yourself:  What’s the Point?

Tell me, either down below in the comments or just write it down in your personal journal: what is your goal for using Twitter?  Here are a few examples of some reasonable goals:

  • I am using Twitter as a social outlet to keep in touch with friends and family.
  • I am using Twitter to network with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
  • I am using Twitter to reach out to editors, journalists, and others in the media.
  • I am using Twitter to connect with my customers in a more social way.

If you’re like a lot of people, you might say “Oh – cool – I’m doing ALL of those things.”  Well, that’s great, but is it a surprise that you’re spending all day on Twitter instead of doing great things for your customers?  I’d advice picking one of those and focus on it, and I bet after a month or two, you’ll have much better results.  Once you feel like you’re really achieving that goal (I’ll leave it to you to define what success means, though I hope it has nothing to do with follower count…), move on to another.

Marketing is About Your Customers, Not You

One common mistake business owners make in their marketing is making big assumptions about their customer.  Are you on Twitter because you think your customers want to interact with you in this way, or because you were bedazzled by the latest hype and info graphics?  If you don’t know for sure, there’s an easy way to find out:  ask.  Ask your customers if they’re on Twitter, if they’ve heard about it, and if they’d like to interact with your business there.  You might find the answer surprising.

Andy Hayes is the entrepreneur behind Travel Online Partners. Be sure to check out their popular website review service.