Thinking about starting up a Twitter account for your business? Or considering allowing employees to use Twitter? Here are 10 tips to consider before getting started.

  1. Decide before you join how you want to use Twitter. Will it be used for Customer Support (like Comcast does via @ComcastCares) or will it be used to offer promotional deals (like Zappos the on-line shoe site via @Zappos) or will it be to socially network to build up business?
  2. If using a business name be sure to use something like "Name_Business Name" (Jane_ABCCompany). That way more than one employee can use Twitter and represent the company. Zappos does a great job with this one.
  3. Be sure to use a photo (and not a logo), fill out the description (tell folks why they should be interested in following) and include a link to the company's website.
  4. Let everyone be authentic. Twitter isn't about just tweeting news about your company or promotional deals. It's about developing relationships. If you or an employee loves music, let that come through too.
  5. Realize that it will take time to develop a following.
  6. Don't follow hundreds or thousands of people just because you can. Try to find those people in your target market or that have common interests. (Following too many people at once can make you look like a potential spammer)
  7. So just how do you find people to follow then? Read Mack Collier's great post on this. He suggests using TweetScan and a few other interesting ways.
  8. Have something relevant to say. For example, if you have your marketer's on Twitter, make sure they understand the industry well enough to have a conversation with people who just might be potential customers (and not fluff, deep industry knowledge).
  9. Don't just take, share valuable information as well.
  10. Have fun! Twitter can be a lot of fun from a business perspective. When people are real, it shows and that leads to a lot of great help and insightful conversations.

These are my 10 tips, what else can you add to help businesses feel more comfortable with using Twitter?

November 23, 2008

Beth Harte is a marketing, communications & social media consultant, speaker and professor that started her career when companies barely had e-mail—let alone websites. Experiencing Web 1.0 first hand, she also enjoyed the mad dash towards implementing integrated marketing communications and SEO/SEM. Beth is deeply engaged with marketing, PR & social media and helps companies do the same. Being a firm believer in ‘walking the walk to talk the talk,’ Beth blogs at The Harte of Marketing where she shares tips, opinions & observations that she’s experienced firsthand or picked up from some of the best marketers, communicators and social media leaders in the world.


Hi Beth! #2 is good, but people have to be careful with using that kind of naming convention.

If you or I worked worked for IBM, WayneIBM or BethIBM would be fine. But if we worked for Microsoft, our names begin to take up our very valuable character allowance.

Some time ago, I was included in a Skype conference call with Dan York and a bunch of other telecoms guys discussing Twitter. One of my suggestions was that the name part be excluded from the character allowance. But that's never happened...

Excellent tips! You must stand out from the rest, so making your twitter profile unique is important.Using your real name instead of a "jfkrroror" will help.

This is great. Many times companies just hop on Twitter and end up hurting themselves rather than increasing business. Def. need to have a game plan when targeting Twitter.

With regard to point 3 - I agree and disagree. If you rely on relationships and networking to make sales, you should post your professional head shot - 100% agreed. If you rely on a brand to make sales, then this is the time to use the company logo – ideally 88 x 88 pixels in either case. Its best divided by how you sell.

@LauraBriere, I think today people want to relate to/with the "who" not the "what" and a brand (company or product/service) is the what. It's the people behind the brand that make the connections, the relationships. For example, Agilent is on Twitter and uses Twitter as their PR outlet (their avatar is their logo). There is no "who" and that is a detriment because now if someone who follows them wanted to have a conversation about their news there is no way to know who to have that conversation with...there is only a what.

@NickStamoulis, Agreed. Twitter needs to be thought out otherwise companies might start/stop an identity because they got it wrong the first time. Twitter is a valuable and viable tool, if used properly.

@TomLindstrom, I think if a company is going to use Twitter successfully employees should use their real name. A lot of times someone knows the person's name and where they work, but if they use a "code name" it will be harder to find them on Twitter. Simple is better.

@WayneSmallman, It's just my opinion, but in this case, I think the personality and person's name is more important than the company name (even is it is Microsoft). So we'd be BethH_MS and WayneS_MS or something similar. With social media, customers want to relate to the people at the company, not just the 'brand' of the company. Otherwise would it be Microsoft1, Microsoft2, etc. so that the brand remains intact? I suppose time will tell how this works out as more companies join Twitter.

This is all great advice- Same types of ideas that Ken Lizotte
writes in his newest book, "The Expert's Edge

Being a social networking virgin in respect of using it for company branding I and the company I work for, XL Recruitment, a financial services headhunter, are only just beginning to realise the benefits to sites like Twitter or Facebook. In terms of raising the company profile and getting the message out there they can be great additions to the marketing tools already used to create our brand. XL Recruitment are working in the contracting financial services recruitment market in the UK so pretty much every bit of assistance at the moment is gratefully received and although the brand does need to remain intact in order for us to be recognised by employers using PSL's, etc it is important, as we are in a people business to remain at ground level, as it were and not be a faceless entity.

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