Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How to Use Twitter for Business

I sat in last week on an excellent webcast presented by Chris Abraham of social PR firm Abraham Harrison and Anamitra Banerji, product manager at Twitter, on using Twitter for business. If you've got an hour, check out the slides and presentation video; if you only have a few minutes, the highlights from the presentation are below.



What Twitter is Useful For

1) sharing real-time news, such as what was happening, while it was happening, during the terrorist attack on Mumbai;

2) monitoring what people are saying about your company, brand, industry, hobby, favorite charity, cause, or anything else; and

3) business.

The primary business use of Twitter is for listening to and carefully communicating with customers and prospects. However, there are multiple examples of companies finding other interesting uses for Twitter:

CRMJetBlue, Comcast Cares, Starbucks, Ford

BrandingiStock, Whole Foods

Product promotionDirecTV, DealUniversity

How to Prospect for an Audience

1) Mine your email accounts for people that you know / have interacted with, and search for them in Twitter.

2) Follow suggested people from Twitter (these are usually high-profile Tweeters).

3) Follow the people who the top influencers follow.

4) Find people to follow on WeFollow.

5) Use Twollow to find new tweeters to follow based on keywords.

6) As you meet new people online or offline, search for them and Twitter and follow if they are there.

7) Use the #followfriday tag (only on Fridays) to recommend your favorite tweeters to others, and you'll likely in turn get recommended to their followers.

It's okay to take a "shotgun" approach to outbound following; those who are interested will follow back.

Recommended Twitter Tools

SocialToo
—catch up on your Twitter followers and selectively unfollow people who don't follow you back.

Ping.fm—update multiple social media accounts at once.

HootSuite—send a single tweet through multiple Twitter accounts, preschedule tweets and manage multiple Twitter profiles.

Seesmic Desktop—**5 STARS**—manage multiple Twitter accounts from a single interface, share photos and video, and organize your social contacts into logical groups. Chris highly recommends this tool.

TweetLater—great for automating repetitive tasks.

Best Times of Day to Tweet

Most people check their Twitter streams in the early morning, at lunch time, and/or in the early evening. If you typically tweet twice per day, shoot for noon and 3:00 p.m. eastern. If you often tweet four or more times per day, aim for 9:00 a.m. / noon / 3:00 p.m. / 6:00 p/m/ EST.

Other Advice and Twitter Best Practices

Avoid auto-responses! They are obnxious, easily spotted and likely to lose you followers.

Twitter is not broadcast. Your tweet stream should ideally contain a mix of general tweets to all of your follows, messages sent to one or a few specific followers but publicly viewable, and conversations.

When someone tweets something you've written, or retweets something you've linked always thank them in a personal, friendly manner.

Community-building takes time—it's a marathon, not a sprint. Avoid spammy "get 10,000 followers in 36 hours!" techniques.

When retweeting, make sure the link works first.

It's often advisable to have both an official company Twitter account as well as personal accounts for anyone who tweets on behalf of the organization.

Make your profile background attactive, professional and informative. It's the key branding element for your Twitter presence.

Trivia

The #, RT and @ conventions weren't developed by Twitter; these were all community-generated enhancements.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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