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GENERAL RESOURCES

Twitter for Business - Not Just for Ruining Your Reputation

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Julia Liapidova, Faye, Pollack & Associates, Inc.

May 26, 2009

Available since 2006, Twitter is a free microblogging service that allows users to post 140 characters of text to the internet world.  The premise is simple, but the uses are endless: Twitter users can utilize the service to gain internet followers and join any conversations in the internet world; find out what clients, users and competitors are saying about their company; connect with professors dispensing free industry-relevant advice; or simply follow live news.  These are a few practical uses, but the spectrum of actual use ranges from the personal to the unusual to the artful to the business effective.   

Find out how different CEOs are taking advantage of Twitter with this BusinessWeek slideshow.

The beauty of Twitter is that it features free-flowing, real-time information, but without a set filter.  Anyone and everyone can broadcast thoughts, tips, and opinions, meaning misinformation, inappropriate or damaging personal information, and more, are all collected in one space along with the useful, insightful and valuable. The key to using Twitter successfully for business purposes is to tap into the right channels and offer followers of your Tweets relevant, timely, valuable information.

Top Reasons to Consider Twitter for Your Business

  • Twitter is free PR if you can develop a following of interested clients, prospects, and business contacts, and especially true if you can get other users to reTweet your posts
  • If you have time to make an investment in joining conversations by Tweeting interesting, fresh topics or offering your followers special promotions, you can build brand image and gain access to new leads
  • This service allows you to quickly scour all Twitter posts for mentions of your company name, the name of your CEO or any topic of discussion that pertains to your organization, letting you see what clients, competitors, industry experts are saying in real time
  • Twitter gives you the ability to test the waters by polling your clients and followers in real time before releasing a new ad, service, product
  • You can network with your client base and community

How Do I Get Followers?

  • Follow others in your industry; some will follow you as a courtesy, and some because they’re truly interested in what you have to say
  • Fill out your Twitter bio to get listed in directories and inform users of why they would be interested in following you
  • Monitor and encourage reTweets with ReTweetist.com to see who is interested in your information and to extend your potential audience base
  • Add profile badges to your blogs or any other online profiles to begin a different type of conversation with followers
  • Engage in discussions and gain recognition and notoriety through interesting exchanges
  • Follow users Tweeting information interesting to you by subscribing to feeds by industry or topic with www.twellow.com

Questions to Ask Yourself

If you believe your business can benefit from a Twitter account, two of the first questions to ask yourself are: What kind of contacts do I hope to attract and interact with and how can I keep them interested in what I’m saying? What is the most innovative and effective use of this service for my company?

For many businesses, Twitter is a broadcasting tool, not a social networking tool.  If this is the use that makes the most sense for your company, work to connect with clients, colleagues, and the “community” that represents your niche market.  If your company’s goal is to manage client feedback, don’t just send out Tweets for the sake of saying something; directly address user concerns with a response or take another form of reactive approach, even if it means just taking user feedback into account when improving your next line of products.

Ultimately, different businesses will find success in different ways.  A cosmetics company may want to use Twitter to attract new leads by Tweeting about special offers, Twitter-only promotions, events, client success stories, links to make-up tips.  On the other hand, a professional services firm may want to devote Tweets to offering industry relevant tips, project insights, and links to articles of interest. 

As far as determining the best use of this service goes, it is often helpful to look around and review strategies of similar organizations, glance at Digg.com for tips and additional information, or just begin by following others you find listed in categories of interest.  Again, the possibilities are limitless, but to harness the full power of this resource, consider how it can be a fit for your goals and ask yourself what you really feel comfortable with.  For instance, a small police department in Texas is beginning to Tweet links to videos of crimes being committed to get the community to help identify felons.  Comcast, a large, corporate Twitter user, uses the service to monitor and respond to the complaints of dissatisfied clients and improve satisfaction. 

Twitter is for everyone.  Take the time to see if an innovative strategy can help you create instant buzz, maintain a current client base, manage community relationships, or even connect with fresh leads.


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