I began Twittering my businesses on a challenge from a die-hard Twitterer. I set out to prove it was a near featureless tool not worth mastering (which only takes about five minutes anyhow.)
I was only right on one score: Twitter is pretty much featureless, but what it lacks in polish, it makes up for in practical use due to its startling popularity.
Twitter Business Tip #1: Ignore the Nay-Sayers - Do Use Twitter for Your Business
I am now convinced that any business owner who tells you not to use Twitter because it will ruin your professional image is: a) a business owner still communicating with customers in the dark ages; or b) a really savvy business owner already secretly Twittering your clients.
According to Mashable, in 2008, Twitter had about 6 million users. Even with a high user drop out rate (60% of people abandon Twitter accounts after one month) Mashable projects by year-end 2009, 18 million people will be using Twitter. Mashable also projects there will be more than 26 million active Twitter users for 2010.
That's communication growth this woman in business could no longer dismiss and neither should you.
Twitter Business Tip #2: Before You Begin Using Twitter Write a Twitter Business Plan
If you are interested in preserving (or restoring or building) your business' reputation, take the time to develop a Twitter business plan before you start sending out Tweets.
The three most important questions to consider are:
- Who are the people we want to reach? Clients? New customers? Private investors? The general public? This is important to establish before you create an account because you may need more than one account, and some accounts may need to be kept private.
- Will Your Tweets be Interactive? Will you allow people to comment back? Or just get updates? Will your subscriber list be public or private?
- Who Will Monitor the Account? Decide who will Tweet and what they will Tweet. For example, if you have a blog will you have your blog automatically send out a Tweet for you? Or will you need to hand-pick blogs to Tweet?
Twitter has the social media power to help you build your business, but if you just start an account without a plan, you will not maximize its potential or worse - you could make your business look bad.
Twitter Business Tip #3: Micro Twitter Your Business
Many businesses can get by with one main Twitter account but if your business is highly diversified, you may do better to Micro Twitter. I do need to clarify there is a "Micro-Twitter" service from Japan that only allows 14 characters in a post. I am not talking about that kind of micro-Twittering. I am referring to serving micro-needs of your business through Twitter subscriber segregation.
Twitter is a microblogging tool. You can only send short quips and updates to your subscribers. I have found you get more followers and better response if you "micro Twitter." Set up more than one Twitter account for your business if you normally segregate customer interests.
For example, if you send a newsletter out to different types of customers, you might do better to give selected customer groups their own Twitter feed. Your Tweets are more likely to be read and reTweeted when a message hits home.
Remember, any account you set up will need to be active, monitored, and serve a purpose to be a successful business tool. Try to limit your Twitter accounts to no more than two or three to avoid confusing your customers about which Tweets they should be following. Plus, the more accounts you have, the more work you create for yourself.
Twitter Business Tip #4: Don't "Say Anything" Just to Keep Communications Open
It is almost impossible to bloviate on Twitter given its extreme limitations on how many characters you can Tweet. But it is important to separate your business from personal Tweeters by sticking to relevant, timely, and important business updates.
For the most part, your customers will probably not care if you photocopier is down $^!% again. Or, that all your employees are wearing jeans on casual dress day. But they will be happy to hear you are offering 15 percent off this week only for walk-in customers.
The best rule of thumb for business Twitter is that if you don't have something interesting to say, it is better to not Tweet until you do.