Friday, August 29, 2008

Getting Started on Twitter

If you’re ready to check out Twitter as a business tool, here are some tips to get you started.

As with all social media initiatives, remember that transparency is crucial. At this point in the evolution of the Web 2.0 environment, having brands and brand representatives participating in relevant online conversations is both expected and welcome when it’s done correctly.

Find Your Community

A good first step is to start searching for mentions of your brand, products, services, vertical market or even your competitors. See who is consistently talking about topics relevant to your business. You may find reporters, analysts, bloggers, other industry professionals, interested consumers, or no one at all (yet).

Next, start thinking about what kind of communications you want to put out. A business to business brand might want to tweet about industry news, new product developments, research, or just general thoughts and ideas on multiple topics. A B2C brand will want to think about what kind of communications would be interesting to its “followers”, such as tips, links to interesting articles, advice, news, jokes, etc. Whatever your communications strategy is, it should always be valuable to your audience by being informative or entertaining.

Before you start following people on Twitter, post a few tweets so that users can see what you’re about in order to decide whether or not to follow you back.

Take It Slow

Don’t jump right in adding hundreds of follows, or you’ll be pegged as a spammer and Twitter will remove your account. A good rule of thumb is to have at least a 1:3 ratio of followers to follows. Doing so shows that you’re an involved participant, not just an advertiser trying to rack up a high volume of followers so you can blast out your messaging. In addition to posting your own tweets, respond to those posted by others. These conversations have the added benefit of being viewed by many of the users following whomever you are conversing with, possibly resulting in more followers for you.

Give and Take

The real value of Twitter is that the communication goes both ways. Utilizing it as a means to listening is every bit as valuable, and in some cases even more so, than simply utilizing it to send out your own messaging. Set up RSS Feeds to discover, in real time, what is being said about your company, brand, industry or competitors. Follow other leaders in your market to get up-to-the-minute news on your industry that’s already been vetted by people with interests similar to your own.

The ways in which Brands can take advantage of social media outposts like Twitter are diverse and always evolving. Talk to whoever manages your social media program to plan out a Twitter strategy that works for your brand.

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