9 Twitter tips for business

Twitter is so red-hot right now that it’s united Shaq and Oprah. It’s also so good at attracting buzzwords that I can’t decide whether to call it a microblogging service or a social-networking Web site

before. Here are some tips on how to use Twitter effectively—and a few cautions, as well.

1. Don’t automate it

If you’ve got a blog that’s connected to your business, you can use a service such as TwitterFeed to directly channel your new blog posts into Twitter posts. Sounds nifty, doesn’t it? Well, don’t do it. Your business’s primary Twitter feed ought to be hand-fed. If you publish a flood of impersonal links, your Twitter account will just seem like a faceless promotion machine. And that’s not any way to engage people on Twitter.

2. Be conversational

Your business’s Twitter account should talk like a person—even if it’s a collective “person” representing your company or brand.

3. Follow people who are relevant

From your Twitter account, follow everyone on your staff who uses Twitter. Follow colleagues in related companies and in your industry. Follow relevant brands and journalists and pundits in your market, even those who compete with you.

4. Make sure your people are on Twitter, and refer to them

Not everyone will embrace Twitter, but many of them will—and even the most personal stuff that leaks on to Twitter can help make stronger personal connections with colleagues and audience members alike.

5. Answer your mentions

People will refer to your company’s account as if it were a person. You should reply to tweets that mention you, when relevant. This will give your account more personality and will make those people feel engaged directly with the brand.

6. Search for your name

Beyond mentions, which are specific references to your Twitter account, there are probably people using Twitter to talk about your business. There are a lot of companies offering great customer service and support on Twitter by watching what people say about them

7. Consider creating sub-accounts for sections of your business or customer base

If you’re part of a big enough company, consider creating smaller, more targeted accounts.

8. Use Twitter to ask your customers questions…and get good answers

Twitter is a great way to get answers to questions. Trying to figure out what your customers want to see or are interested in? Use Twitter to ask them.

9. Be a good Twitter citizen

Can you persuade your Twitter followers to promote you to their followers?

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