I’ve read numerous articles on Twitter, some saying it’s a complete waste of time, some saying it’s extremely useful and others, more temperate, saying it’s useful and a time waster as well, depending on what you do with this tool.

I believe saying Twitter or any other Social Media channel for that matter wastes your time is simply stating the obvious. Anything consuming time has potential to waste everything it spends with no real results. Social media, other media, everything you do can have no results, some results or excellent results. It all depends on how much you invest in your actions, what you aim to obtain and there’s also the little yet important part luck plays in the equation.

I for one used to believe Facebook was a complete waste of time, as I didn’t see how movie surveys and playing with vampires would ever help me. But I am sure the smart people who invented the “guess the brand” survey I played months ago had great results in seeing how much awareness they can associate to different brand identities.

So here are my conclusions about Social Media in general, including the microblogging poster child Twitter. And yes, by calling it poster child I mean to say there’s a lot going on right now on Twitter and I believe it has a pretty great future.

1. Social Media is time consuming

From your blog, to the Twitter account, to digg and Facebook, building a nice looking network of friends takes time. Simply because you need to invest interest, research and empathy in the whole process.

2. You need to be honest to yourself about what you expect and the chances to get it

If you want to meet people with keen interests, to build relationships with them to then talk, share tricks and tips and generally have a good time, that’s doable. If you want to generate traffic, that’s also possible, it won’t happen the moment you publish your profile or the moment you post your first link. If you want to raise sales by 30 percent in a week without much effort, that’s not gonna happen.

3. The people you get to know are the greatest asset

The relationship you develop will be the greatest thing you’ll ever get out of social media. You’ll gain great friends, great teachers and very persuasive evangelists if you play your cards right.

4. Your key tools are honesty, genuine interest and selflessness

What’s in it for you is important. But the “social” part of the affair should tell you there are others to worry about. I don’t think it’s because of the back scratching syndrome. I like to believe we are naturally inclined to help those we trust/believe in.

So, if your product, service or personal brand is not a joke, but something awesome, if you have taken enough time to understand how to blend in into the social networks, the time you “waste” will be nothing compared with what riches you’ll discover.

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