(Very) Basic Twitter Tips for Business

This is a version of my Belfast Telegraph column from 2 Feb 2010

It is more than a year since the Great Twitter Adoption.  Within a few months Twitter stories were all over the media. @StephenFry earned acres of coverage when he sent a photograph and Tweets from inside a lift stuck between two floors.  This was the new frontier and Mr. Fry was elevated to be the great public Twitter leader of the non-digerati – rightly so.  Stories of an easy way to communicate with strangers (in or out of a lift) emerged just as the economy was crumbling. Businesses saw this mass migration to one platform as a new way to market.  

Some blundered in and started firing off marketing messages to an audience they hadn’t got to know and without understanding that the great thing about Twitter (and other social media) you can chose not to listen to someone. 

Some got it right. From their experience I offer the following as “learnings”.  Businesses can use Twitter successfully; they just have to appreciate the local customs.

1 – Human or Business?  People like people and they tend to be less interested in corporations and businesses.  A business is there to sell – social media is about being social.  Be a person, use your own name not your businesses.  There are some exceptions – information providers like newspapers and magazines are generally OK to use their business name, only.  But a person is even better.

2 –Write with a personal voice, write the way you speak.

3 – Beware, 140 characters does not lend itself to subtlety or irony.

4 – Follow and be followed. Twitter is a place to get to know people.  Find followers.  What are you interested in? Find people posting on the same topics. Follow them and some will follow you.

5 –Sell? Sell? Sell? – No! No! No! But do provide information.

6 – Reply. If someone sends a message – reply, unless you want to ignore them.

7 – Share.   Don’t just promote your business.  Tell people about what you are doing, reading, exploring and find interesting.

8  – Unless you are amazingly talented – humour rarely works.

9 – Re-Tweet.  Someone you follow said something interesting?  Then Re-Tweet.  Support your friends and they’ll support you.

10 – Remember #followfriday.  Recommend people you find interesting to others.

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