Twitter has become more than just a social platform in today’s society; Twitter is now a full-blown form of communication. What do I mean by that?

I mean I think Twitter has ascended beyond being regarded as simply a social website. How do people communicate? They talk to each other. They write. They chat. They email. They text. They post. And they tweet. Such a simple formula: provide a platform for posting short messages, with an internal linking system to other accounts.

But that unique blend of immediacy, brevity, and community has made Twitter something special that has the kind of reach we associate with cell phones and email. And just like cell phones and email, Twitter has become part of the central means of communication in society.

So here’s my thought: let’s start treating it with the respect it deserves. To put a finer point on it, let’s stop letting the spammers do to Twitter what they very nearly did to email: trivialize it. Email was saved by the advent of stronger spam filters – if we can’t get RID of spam, lets at least segregate it. But until Twitter is able to implement something similar, we’re on our own.

This is a particularly relevant topic for those in the web marketing industry like myself, and any business that is engaging on social media. Our task is to differentiate ourselves from the faceless masses, to show that yes there is a real person who actually cares about the business they’re representing and the people who want to engage with it.

In a certain light, it’s become easier. Twitter spam has gotten so egregious that just tweeting something in English with a coherent message is enough to show that yours isn’t a dummy account spewing out gibberish. But that’s just one step – and there is much further to go before you stand out as a worthwhile business account your target audience will appreciate.

Here are a few simple tips to keep you on track:

  • Be yourself: yep, we’re taking this right back to after school specials. Don’t be afraid to put some of your own personality into your posts, and not just what you think the “corporate image” needs to be. People want to talk to other people, not just a brand logo.
  • Branch out, but bring it back: there’s nothing wrong with getting a little off-topic to keep things fresh. Something funny, something interesting, something irrelevant. But don’t forget to bring it back to the business and your industry, lest people forget what you’re about.
  • Cultivate real followers: Boosting your followers from 100-1000 in a few days is an intoxicating prospect, but doing it through cheap tricks like the so-called “Follow-Back” groups and, heaven forbid, buying followers will only hurt you in the end. Remember, you’re here to drive traffic and business, not to create a false sense of popularity. You see this all the time in the form of self-proclaimed “social gurus” who have 100,000 followers, but no substance at all.
  • Cultivate real followees: yes, I did make that term up. Much more controllable is the accounts your business follows. Again, following truckloads of accounts makes a nice big number in your account profile, but it won’t do you good. The more trash accounts you follow, the more watered down your home stream becomes, and it becomes that much harder to find people of value to engage with and good content to share with your followers.