10 Twitter Rules For Businesses

I’m a huge proponent of Twitter. I use it for personal communications, collaboration, research, and it has become my main source of news. Twitter is the great communication equalizer. It doesn’t matter if your President Obama or Aunt Ruth, we all have the potential for being heard. One tweet can do a lot of damage, or a lot of good. This is why businesses have to pay attention to Twitter.

Recently, I’ve had a really good experience with a business over Twitter, as well as a not so pleasant one. This got me thinking about my dealings with other businesses and how they have approached using Twitter.

It doesn’t matter how big your business is, there are a few things you need to know if your business is going to have a twitter presence.

  1. Branded Twitter Page – Don’t just pick one of the built-in themes and throw your logo into an avatar. This tells the world you don’t care about Twitter and you’re here only because you have to be. Also, don’t just plaster your logo in the background either. You need your page to show your customers that you understand Twitter. Make your background feel twittery(sp?).
  2. Monitor @mentions – This is my biggest twitter pet peeve. If I tweet at your company with a question, or requesting info on your product, you better be getting back to me quickly. What starts out as an innocent question can quickly turn into a complaint. Twitter is now a front line of support, use it as such. Replying quickly is also essential on the sales side of things. If I’m interested in your product, I’m going to tweet at you. When someone calls your sales office, do you just let the phone ring?
  3. Follow Back – This is just good Twitter etiquette. Keeping your follower and following counts close shows you care about your customers and are not an elitist celebrity. For big companies the might not be as important, but for smaller companies it should be a priority.
  4. Don’t Just Tweet Your Stuff – If you’re just tweeting about your product then you’re only using Twitter as an advertisement venue. Why would I want to follow that? Tweet things relevant to your industry. Is your product food? Then tweet out some recipes that could call for it. Software company? Tweet out some case studies, not on your product, where your expertise in the market may have some value. Be creative, and have a sense of humor.
  5. Get In The Discussion – There’s a fine line between conversation and selling, and trust me, we can tell the difference. Track a hashtag related to your field and interject when it makes sense. Don’t be that guy who just pushes his product. Make it known that you understand the industry, then the customers will come calling. Trust me.
  6. Help, Don’t Sell – Reach out to people directly who have a problem to solve. Don’t just push your product, help them work through the process. They may not decide to go with you then, but they will remember that you helped. They’ll be back.
  7. Don’t Auto DM (Direct Message) – Seriously, don’t do it. There is nothing more impersonal than following someone and then receiving a canned response telling me to check out their website. If you’re going to reply to a new follower (and I suggest you do), then make it public and not about you. A simple, “Thanks for the follow” tweet will go a long way.
  8. Retweet Your Followers – I love it when something I say gets retweeted by one of my venders. It shows me they respect my knowledge within the industry, and it projects me as an expert in the field. And really, don’t you want the experts in the industry using your product? Keep your customers happy, and they will continue to sing your praises.
  9. Don’t Go Black – I’ve stated this differently already, but it’s important enough to say again. Twitter is not just marketing. It’s not just sales. It’s not just support. It’s all three. Many companies have their marketing or sales departments (or guy) monitoring Twitter. This is not wise. A department offsite in-service is not an excuse for not responding. You have a smart phone, have the company twitter account on it. You don’t know where the next @mention will come from. It could be a sales inquiry, praise from a happy customer, or an irate individual about to go viral with a video of your product failing them. Be ready for anything, keep watching Twitter.
  10. This Isn’t Your Mother’s Marketing – Twitter is not like fishing. You don’t just hang your advertisement out there and wait for a bite. A clever idea can turn bad. Take for instance McDonalds. They recently had an idea for using a hashtag (#McDStories) to tell the stories of where they get the food for their restaurants. Unfortunately the hashtag started being used as a way to communicate people’s not so glamorous experiences at the fast food chain. What looks good on paper, may not transition well onto Twitter. Be careful.

Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but I think these are probably the most important things to think about if your business is using twitter.

Think I missed something? Then add it to the list, by commenting below.

Hopefully we can help some companies, before they tweet themselves in the foot.

[Image via opensourceway]

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