Marketing I make no secret of being a Twitter user. In fact if you take a look at my profile it won’t be long before I cross the 8000 tweet mark, which isn’t a big deal if you look at the likes of Perez Hilton at nearly 180,00 but for someone in a small niche (vacation rentals) it really isn’t bad. And..none of my tweets concern Miley Cyrus’ tongue or the antics of our Toronto mayor.Even if you have never used Twitter it’s very likely you know what a tweet looks like. It seems every TV news program features one or two of the 140 character messages like this:Twitter is quick. It’s easy. It takes no time at all to send a message that may be read by thousands of people. And if what’s being tweeted is intriguing and topical, it can bring traffic back to your website, blog or listing or even spark the interest of a travel writer or journalist. That is where it all gets interesting.In the last 12 months I’ve been contacted by a major magazine, two national newspapers, CBC radio and Global TV News about different topics ranging from rental scams to the best ways to prepare for a trip to cottage country (Ontario’s popular vacation destination). These connections have all been made as a result of my Twitter activity.This was the tweet I got from Global TV after I’d posted one on a rental scam experienced by a family in the summer:It resulted in the journalist and cameraman taking the trip out to my home for an interview, and a nice piece on the evening news – Online Cottage Scam Leaves Vacationers in the ColdThat was in August and still shows up on Google for ‘online cottage scams’ which demonstrates that a quick tweet can have real sticking power.How could this work for vacation rental owners? Journalists and travel bloggers use Twitter to find experts they can quote, and they’ll look you out if you are tweeting interesting stuff on your location, events and activities and topical news. The vast army of ‘Mommy Bloggers’ are out there looking for new things to write about so if they came across your Tweet on how child-friendly your place is, they may just contact you to find out more. At the very least, they may follow you, or include you on one of their lists so you remain on their Twitter radar.Quick Start on Twitter Getting a good Twitter following requires some work but once you are up and running and regularly tweeting, it is fun to watch it grow. My Guide to Twitter for Vacation Rental Owners will be published in the spring, but until then, here’s a few tips for a quick start:Sign up for Twitter You can’t start without doing that….just go to www.twitter.com and get going. The three most important things you must do are:Create your Twitter name -Keep it short – when people reply to you, your username will show and will become part of their 140 character limit. Where possible, use your own name or one that will be identified with you. If your property has a name, you could use that too – @rosecottage for example.Customise your profile – people like to engage with other people and when they see yoru picture it encourages them to connect, so you should consider using a photo as your avatar. Then write a bio – here’s a short guide to help you outInclude a link to your listing, website or blog – when someone likes what you are tweeting about and reads your profile, they may also want to check your out further so give them somewhere to go.Once you’ve signed up you are ready to go and can start posting a few tweets. No-one will see them unless they are following you, but it’s tough to get anyone to do that until you’ve tweeted a little and they see you are interesting enough.People to follow Looking for interesting people to follow is easy – most people in our industry want to connect so find a few other owners, or VR companies to start with. Follow me @cottageguru and I will follow you straight back. In fact if you go to my Twitter profile and check out my list called ‘VR People’ you can just follow them which will get you off to a good start.Aim for quality in the people you follow, rather than quantity and take your time over selecting them. When you look at their profile, check out when they last tweeted as it’s not worth following anyone that doesn’t use the platform. If they have tweeted anything of interest to you, you can just hit the reply button and send them a message back. This is my response to a question posed by travel bloggers Caz & Craig from Ytravel Blog.Don’t look at Twitter as a method of bringing rental guests to you directly – it is more a tool in the marketing box where you can make connections and relationships that will indirectly raise your profile and get more traffic to your listing, blog or website.One more tip….don’t use it for endless self promotion – that will just annoy people and no-one will be interested in following you.And finally, a shout out to journalist Nina Diamond – @ninatypewriter – for motivating me to write this post and for reminding me about the power of lists. Her article 8 Tips for Using Twitter Lists prompted me to get back to using lists and being more strategic in my use of Twitter. The links on the article don’t work too well so if you want to look at all Nina’s lists – which are a wealth of media connections you will need to go to her Twitter profile and click on Lists on the left hand side – that will take you to all her public lists. Here’s some more collections of people you may want to follow:Top 10 Travel Bloggers to Follow on Twitter – http://jetsettimes.com/2013/04/15/twittertravelbloggers/Luxury travel bloggers – http://www.examiner.com/article/twitter-s-top-luxury-travel-writers-to-followMommy Bloggers – http://www.travelingmom.com/bloggers/I’m more than happy to help you get started so if you have a question post it in the comments section below and I’ll answer it shortly. If you are already on Twitter, make sure you include your user name so I can follow you.Now….get tweeting!