Use it wisely
Enterprise blogging has been lauded for its ability to "humanize" a company and make distant executives feel available to ground-floor customers. Twitter can serve the same purpose much more quickly.
Twitter spearheads the "microblogging" trend, where people air thoughts and share information in real-time while observing a 140-character limit. Here are tips for getting the most out of it:
Subscribe generously. Twitter is among the only social media brands where the subscriber:subscribed ratio is reversed. Most users follow a higher number of people than the number following them.
Don't just be casual; be personal. Enterprise blogging works best when a blogger is frank about what's happening in his company. But it is generally understood that the blogger will not discuss his personal life.
On Twitter, people expect to learn about you. Only then will they care about your company. The CEO of Zappos generated a sizable following for taking this philosophy to heart. He addresses Zappos employees and Zappos issues, but he also shares the things he saw while walking to the airport.
Be responsive. When you address the CEO of Zappos, he replies to you. The sense you "know" him contributes to goodwill surrounding the brand, which many people already have strong positive feelings about.
Seth Godin was recently critiqued for calling Twitter a good resource for building trust and sales, when the Seth Godin brand on Twitter lacks the quality of reciprocation so crucial to relationships. The critic wrote, "I love discovering your posts via Twitter, but Twitter Seth doesn't follow anyone and as far as I can tell has never sent a message to anyone. It's exclusively a one way relationship."
Godin argued, "If I twit, and do it well […] then what shall I give up? I already don't sleep or comb my hair…"
If you don't have time for Twitter, find an employee or brand advocate who does. It will probably serve you better if people build relationships with your warm and friendly intern, versus with cold and negligent you.
Be faster than RSS. Online news or content sites often build dedicated Twitter RSS feeds for their readers. If you don't have a lot of time, that's fine.
But RSS feeds don't upload headlines right away. Twitter-based news resources like BreakingNewsOn generate followings because they aren't just feeds; they literally break news more quickly than content sites.
When you can, give your followers one of these two things (both, for best results): personality and timeliness.
Spark interactivity. Twitter users sometimes like to play games to pass the time: "ALL CAPS Day," "Name that Lyric." Last month, San Francisco activists used Twitter to coordinate the activities of a war protest.
Ask for help. From time to time, ask followers what they think about a given campaign or product. Consider their advice. Tell them if you incorporate it. This lends the sense your company values them — not merely as users but as friends with sound opinions.
Some users will even pass your message to their own friends (this is called "ReTweeting"), improving the odds that you'll get useful assistance and more exposure. Hence the magic of Twitter.
Track your progress. Some useful tools:
- Intwition tracks what links are, were or will be popular on Twitter.
- Twitterverse is an at-a-glance source for finding out what users are most commonly tweeting today.
- Tweet Clouds tells you what a given Twitter user most commonly tweets.
- TweetStats provides colourful graphs on month-to-month Twitter use, daily and hourly tweets, people replied to most, interfaces preferred, for individual Twitter users. (It has been used in the past to identify bots — one good reason to avoid playing dirty on Twitter.)
Be Tweet-worthy. Take opportunities to join or moderate panels at industry conferences. Audience members increasingly "tweet" conference sessions — sometimes word-for-word — especially in the advertising, marketing and technology space.
If you take this route, be sure to have something valuable to say. Twitter users scalded Sarah Lacy in real-time when her interview with Mark Zuckerberg went awry at SXSW in March.
In the event that you do find yourself on a well-tweeted panel, avoid cheesy references to the technology like, "Don't Twitter that, guys!" Twitter users hate that — and they'll let the world know about it.