Top Twitter Tips for Business: #1 & #2

Tweeting–using Twitter–for business is really different than just plain Tweeting. Here’s why.

When I Tweet as me, I’m off duty. I’m in a room full of hand-picked, interesting people and we talk about everything—the multi-dimensional threads that build Twitter community. Example: Thomas. We met through work, but now connect on family, politics and personal interests, as well as what’s happening in the industry, when we cross paths on Twitter. Our Tweets have helped us become friends.

But when I Tweet for business, or guide clients to Twitter, it’s with a very different intention. The focus is on sharing information that matters—that’s relevant—to the person on the other side of the Tweet. “Relevant” is the key word. It’s all about them. For business, you have to Tweet the stuff that matters to your audience—that makes a difference in their lives, work, minds, or, ultimately, wallets.

The CEO of Zappos.com is a much-cited example of corporate Tweeting. But I also think that Ribbit.com, a voice-to-Web startup (disclosure: I do some consulting for them) does a good job engaging in a Twitter-based business conversation. (Follow, if you’d like, to see it in action.)

IMHO, Tweeting for business only works you give more than you take. And if you’re patient. That can be hard for start-ups, because often, early-stage companies are limited in what they can openly communicate. It takes some creative thinking, and a real commitment, to engage in conversation, especially in a setting like Twitter.

To help businesses understand Twitter, I wrote Ten Top Twitter Tips for Business, building from the Ten “Regular” Twitter Tips also on this blog. But those Ten turned into Twelve, each with detail, and then into Fourteen…way too much information.

So I’m starting with Two Tips, designed to get you started exploring the potential Twitter offers to businesses to start open, transparent, collaborative conversations.

Take a look, and come back tomorrow. I’ll post two more. But starting things off:

1. Practice first. Set up a personal Twitter account and learn your way around. Invite friends. Gather a few followers and get to know the basics with them. Be sure to know what you’re doing before you connect with customers. You would be doing your business a disservice to build a following and not have your act together when you start Tweeting them. And continue Tweeting as “you,” even once your business Twitter plan is underway. You will learn so much. Master the tools, see how the conversation grows, and be Twitter-savvy before you start Tweeting for business.

2. COMMIT before you TWIT. As you know, every action you take as a business affects how your customers and community see you, experience you. Like any other business decision, your outcome on Twitter can only be as good as the process behind it. Building community on Twitter requires an investment of content, frequency and time.

If you’re looking at Twitter as a platform for business conversations, go in with a long-term commitment. I don’t think that anyone would tell you that the ROI will be predictable, conventionally measurable, or immediate. Blogger Nick O’Neill reports that there are on average 200,000 active daily users on Twitter … I have friends whose Facebook apps get more traffic than that.”

One pundit aptly described Twitter as “Web serendipity”…well said. You don’t go to Twitter for the raw numbers…at least not yet. You go for chance that you run into someone, pick up a story, learn of an opportunity that makes a difference…and that you would have missed otherwise. Keep this in mind as you plan how you will use Twitter, how you will define success, and how you will modify your plan as your Twitter presence evolves.

Work.com’s Guide to Twitter for Business is worthwhile if you’re thinking of adding Twitter to your business mix. Read it, and click links to explore what’s possible in the Twittosphere. You’ll learn more about the surprising complexity (I mean that in a good way) on simple-seeming Twitter—and of the value of building a presence there.

Read the next two tips—on goal-oriented Tweeting and integrating Twitter online and offline—here.

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15 thoughts on “Top Twitter Tips for Business: #1 & #2”

  1. Hi – really having a challenging day – left comment on wrong blog.

    I think that this is another excellent blog – thank you very much.

    How often should a business tweet – only when you have something to say??

  2. Walter, important question. I think it depends on how you define “something to say.” As @Ribbit, for example, has gathered a following, the conversation has changed. It’s now OK to check in, share little news bits from the office, reference prior conversation. We’re starting to be “among friends” and the room is already talking.

    Starting out, though, I would be very careful only to Tweet info that’s actionable or of real value. It’s like any conversation: you have to establish a bit of credibility and trust before you can relax and chat. And you have to punctuate the chat with value from time to time lest you come off as a Twitter air-head 🙂

    I spent some time on @Zappos last night and suggest you do the same. The CEO is really a master of conversation, whether he knows it or not. Plays games. Asks questions. Reveals insights. Laughs. He’s establishing culture and customer intimacy through conversation, and anyone who steps in the room finds their way easily. Now, Zappos is a consumer company; not quite so easy with a B-to-B. But it can be done if the emphasis is on relevance to the people on the other side of the Tweet…and, as always, the A word: Authenticity. We all know it when we feel it. That’s how to Tweet.

    Make sense?

    I love answering these questions. Helps me learn. Bring ’em on.

    Ellen

  3. Elle

    That makes sense and I shall do as you suggest.

    As you are aware I am new on twitter.

    As a “big” business you would tweet as your “brand” as a consultant would you do the same? or would I build my Walter Pike brand? (and then what would I do for me as an individual – are they separate?)

    I have always build Walter Pike – but recently I walked into a meeting and it was

    “Are you Walter, You write PiKE’s Thinking” Which is a newsletter and now reinventing itself as a blog of the same name.”

    Its builds it own brand.

    There is a little humour in the name – often consider whether it should have a Question mark – as in PiKE’s Thinking? …. Really!

  4. When I Tweet for me, I Tweet as me. I’m on Twitter mostly to learn. I hope that now and again I can offer something of value.

    I would feel inauthentic Tweeting as “my consultancy,” for example.

    Seems that you’re building a practice based on advice and thought leadership. As such: share your thoughts on Twitter. Ask questions. Comment on thoughts you like. But go in Authenically, not authoritatively. It’s a conversation.

    I would give different advice if you were, say, an author working on a much-anticipated book, a product innovator…you can imagine the scenarios.

    In summary: if your work is based upon your thoughts, Tweet as you. Hope that helps.

    Ellen

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