The secrets of mixing business with Twitter

If you're under the age of 30, you've heard of Twitter, and if you're in the business world and under the age of 100, I'll bet you've come across the name. Still, some people "get it" more and a lot faster than others. It's taken me awhile, but I think I'm starting to get it.

I joined Twitter a year ago, posted an update or two... and that was about it. Meanwhile, as the year has passed, I've read everything from Time magazine praising Twitter to MSNBC, which just wrote about the Twitter phenomenon the other day. I've interviewed a number of people who sing its praises. And throughout the last year, I've watched in awe because clearly some entrepreneurs and enterprises are using it to their great advantage.

For instance, Zappos, the shoes, clothing and accessories retail site, has used Twitter as something of a way to focus test its products, and communicate with its patrons. Businesses and nonprofits ask their loyal customers or enthusiasts to follow them on Twitter. Politicians use it to spread their message or let followers know that a rally is coming up.