Trust me when I say I was one of the last people interested in fooling with Twitter. I was pretty sure that it would die off, but as it continued to gain steam I decided I needed to figure out a way to leverage it.
I am a big fan of Wordpress MU, and ran my experiment on a WPMU network I setup using TMDHosting. Basically this is a network where I test plugins and ideas. The information I am sharing works just as easily (maybe easier) on a regular self-hosted Wordpress blog, so you don't have to use WPMU.
I decided to try to create a niche Twitter account, and I picked Sports as my topic. It has wide appeal so it would provide more reach to test my ideas.
I installed WPRobot Elite in WPMU (you can do the same thing using WP-O-Matic) and proceeded to request feeds from the best sports blogs I could find across the four majors sports (in the US). I put together about 50 RSS feeds from sites like ESPN to regional sports bloggers to Fanhouse.
I installed WPTwitter and instructed it to only tweet new posts and to use tags as hashtags when tweeted (hashtags are Twitter tags used for Twits to find you more easily). I had WPRobot create the tags automatically. I also signed up for Bit.ly and grabbed my API key to use in WPTwitter. THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE BIT.LY URL IS A 301 REDIRECT WHICH MEANS GOOGLE WILL ACTUALLY INDEX THE CORRECT URL AS THE PERMANENT LINK. Also, Bit.ly provides you awesome stats to see what is happening with your Twitter feed clicks.
When the RSS feeds are pulled, the plugin posts the post title, the description and a link back to the original post. WPTwitter sends the title, a bitly link back to your site, and hashtags for people to find your tweet in search. I try to schedule to have at least one post an hour. More recently its about 5 an hour.
I run it for a day or two, so I have a base of tweets for potential followers to check out. Then I add followers.
I add followers using several apps:
1 - Get more Twitter followers automatically with TopFollowed - this is free (with limits) or paid (no limits). It works great for a very general niche.
2 - EverTweet - this is free, accumulates targeted followers, but much more slowly so as to not set off Twitter flags.
3 - TwitterMass - paid service, but great for cloning a popular Twitter account, such as a celebrity. It will basically autofollows everyone on your target's follower list.
Within a day I had 100 followers, by the end of the first week I had 500. I was getting 135 hits a day to my blog.
Here's the best part: My tweets were getting picked up in Google for some popular keywords, and I started getting Google traffic. NO SEO, ALL DUPLICATE CONTENT. You see Google now indexes tweets and adds the hashtags as keywords. In addition, other websites that aggregate tweets on a particular keyword have my links on their website, and many of these sites have PR4-5!!
Many active Twitter users do use the Twitter web interface, they use Twitter apps such as HootSuite or TweetDeck. This means that my website links were going to desktops of people not even surfing the web.
Now, the last question was how to monetize this traffic. Adsense text ads do not work well with Twitter visitors, but image ads seemed to do OK, so long as the image is targeted and eye-catching. I made some money using StubHub in this case.
I decided to test it with a very targeted niche and attached ebay auctions to the posts on my blogs. I repeated this with several niches. Within two weeks I was getting over 9,000 click throughs to my blogs over a 7-day span, with over 600 clickthroughs to my eBay affilate campaigns. I spent nothing (I have added TwitterMass since then). Oh yeah, and I made a few bucks.
If you don't think this will work for whatever reason just ignore it. If you think this can help jumpstart a niche blog that is not ranking for you go for it. I hope this helps you make money online in 2010.