By Lorien Gabel as told to Hannah Clark Steiman

The first time I heard about Twitter, I thought, Wow, this is a fantastic waste of time. In no way did I think it would be useful to an entrepreneur with an online invitation site. Now, I consider it an indispensable tool for learning what customers think about pingg.

Unlike many people, I don't use Twitter to send out a constant stream of updates. Instead, I monitor what people are saying about us and about our competitors. I use TweetDeck, a simple, free software program that allows me to search for up to 10 terms on Twitter at once. Whenever a Twitter user mentions pingg, Evite, Evite alternative, party planning, or event planning, the message pops up. If someone has a complaint about pingg, we send a response and try to address it. If someone praises pingg, we'll respond and say thanks. It's a very easy way to build community online -- much easier than getting your users to friend you on Facebook.

I also use Twitter to connect with people I call influencers. If a professional event planner Twitters about pingg, I might send a note and ask for feedback. Recently, a popular tech blogger Twittered about us. I reached out, and we had a long conversation. He even provided a valuable business contact for me -- and to think, if it weren't for Twitter, we never would have met.

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