My experience with Twitter: a collaboration of tips

I use Twitter practically every day for business, personal, and professional reasons. In many of my previous posts, I’ve stated that the use of Twitter is not simply to let the world know “What are you doing”, but a means of continuing a conversation. For marketers interested in using Twitter, I’ve scoured on Google and other pretty well-known social media sites and aggregated a few tips that businesses and individuals can commonly use to help take advantage of this ever-growing (and quite popular) microblogging application.

What is “microblogging”? Wikipedia defines it as:

Microblogging is a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates (usually 140 characters) and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, MP3 or the web.

The content of a micro-blog differs from a traditional blog due to the limited space per message. Many micro-blogs provide short messages about personal matters, commentary on a person-to-person level, or a link dump.

So how does this benefit marketers? IF your audience would seem like the type to dive into microblogging applications and follow you, here are some tips:

  • Be honest and authentic with your audience. You can use Twitter as a mechanism for talking to your audience and strike up a conversation, but you might want to reduce the amount of marketing-esque speak that you would typically use. Remember this, when people interact with someone on Twitter, it’s another level of connection that the consumer gets. They think that they’re virtually communicating with a human being rather than some automaton.
  • Put a profile picture up there. If you’re going to make it seem like your company wants to engage their customers, then put some real effort into showing that you care about that touch point.
  • Make sure you promote your brand on Twitter. No, you don’t want to plaster your brand name in EVERY post. Rather, why not make it your Twitter alias? When people talk to @comcastcares, they genuinely believe that someone at Comcast will get pinged by their “tweet” and respond back. That starts the conversation and adds some brand recognition. Users know exactly that this is the company that can deal with their problems.
  • Follow people, but don’t follow people. I got this one from Hubspot and it is NOT necessary for you to follow everyone that follows you. Rather, I would suggest following only those individuals who you think (based on their Twitter updates) would make great evangelists and could spread word of mouth information easily. If you’re a newspaper or publication owner, then have your account follow journalists, people in the news business, etc. The same can go for the interactive sector, medicine, law, etc.
  • Reply once in a while. They won’t bite. Problogger has got a real point in watching your “reply ratio”. From a marketing standpoint, Twitter is not a one-way means of communication. It’s a two-way street. So when you decide to post some tweets, make sure you spend some time and reply back to others, regardless of whether they’re addressed to your account or not. If it’s about your industry, then go ahead and respond back with some insight. Show that your twitter account cares more then just troubleshooting. It’s called customer support for a reason, right?
  • Use Twitter as an ad hoc focus group. Be not afraid of the masses on Twitter. In fact, use them to your advantage and while your objective is to be knowledgeable in all things relating to your industry, we are only human. There are questions that we might not know the answers to and will need to ask the Twittersphere about what their thoughts are on a wide range of subjects. Everyone is a subject matter expert in their own right so don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s the best way we know how to learn.
  • Incorporate Twitter into your website. If your website has a chat feature or a forum, then Twitter can be an added extension. For those who want to just ping you via their mobile or desktop applications and don’t want to log into your website, Twitter can be another forum for them to get in touch. Promote your usage on Twitter as much (if not more) than you are on other interactive elements.
  • Share your information. Feel free to share the latest information on what your company is doing. It’s a public relations mechanism after all. Talk about the latest events your representatives are attending, list the latest news your audience would be interested in (consumers, businesses, clients, stakeholders, etc.), or just simply…talk. Word of caution: don’t share company secrets on Twitter.
  • See how other companies are utilizing Twitter. Don’t think that you’re alone in joining Twitter and using it for company promotion. There are many companies on Twitter, both big and small companies. Search online for companies to find and see how they’re using it & maybe there’s someone in your industry you can use as a benchmark.
  • The number of followers isn’t necessarily a good metric of success. You could say that the number of people following your Twitter account is a good thing, but what’s really important is the conversion of people who visit your Twitterstream and then visit your site and achieve what you’d like your call-to-action is. One possible strategy would be with all your links that you put in your tweets to have tracking tags to record clickthrough activity.

There are perhaps countless more tips and strategies for you to use for business. Having looked on Google for Twitter tips, I came across a few credible and prominent sites that would help you get the word out:

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."