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7 Twitter Tips for Businesses

Greetings Readers! Globally, Twitter is growing from strength to strength, and it is no surprise that 2010 saw more local businesses launching an account. I have been a quiet observer watching these accounts in action (or inaction), and as this year draws to a close, I felt it was time for a follow-up to the previous Twitter is a Party post. So, here they are - 7 Twitter Tips for Businesses.
1. Be consistent in your branding
Does your organisation already have a known catch phrase, slogan, mission statement, etc? Be true and consistent to your branding and I recommend re-using the same few phrases you are already known for. Include a web link to your homepage or Facebook Page, and (please please please) don't be casual with your profile picture / logo. It is surprising how many businesses use the generic 'egg' picture. No coincidence it is shaped like a 'zero'?
2. Do not rush your launch
Just because your competitors signed up three months ago, do not rush your launch. The maiden 'testing testing' tweet does not impress, and it paints a poor picture of what your business has to offer. E.g. if you run a restaurant, people do not expect you to serve up untested, under-prepared, uncooked meals. In the same way, launch when you are sure, ready and committed...
3. Update regularly
Yup. I said it. Committed. Have you tried searching for your business on Google lately? You know that Twitter account you launched, oh...about 12 months ago and forgot all about? The one with the 'egg' profile picture? Yup, it is still there. And yup-yup, still just that one 'testing testing' tweet. There are different schools of thought about how often (and what) you tweet, but 12 months of silence is...well, I think you know what I am getting at. To me it is like putting up an 'out for lunch' sign on the entrance of your business and leaving it there for 12 months.
4. Know your audience
Take time to understand your audience, i.e. in this case, your customers. If you have 100 Twitter followers, do you know which age group the majority of them are in? What are they talking about? What topics are relevant to them? Yes, Twitter is a 'free' form of marketing...but is it the right medium for your business? Some positive signs you are on the right track - your tweets get retweeted, your followers respond when you ask questions or interact with them, the web links you include in your tweets get clicked, they mention you, etc. 
5. Do a self-search
Do a Twitter search on the name of your business, brand, product, etc and read up on what is being said or has been said about you. Of course, be prepared for some in-your-face findings; one thing about Twitter folk is that we are an honest bunch. If you follow the #Brunei search on Twitter, often there are people who tweet about good and bad experiences they have had (or are having) with businesses. Are you one of them? If so...
6. Respond and interact
When people reach out to you, respond. Take every opportunity to respond to queries, greetings, concerns, and complaints posted, whether or not by follower or non-follower. When it comes to complaints, you cannot fix every problem, especially when 'discussions' are had offline, but have the chance to rectify accordingly. If people are bothered enough to tweet about it, so you too should care enough to respond. Sure, they may or may not like your response, but at least they know that you have made the effort...unlike your competitor whose Twitter account is still inactive after 12 months.
7. Share more than you Sell
Share more than you Sell. Simply put, you do not want to be known as someone who just sells sells sells. Sure, of course you believe in your product and you just want the world to know about it, but the truth is that if all you do on Twitter is a whole lot of shameless self-promotion...then you - are - a - spammer. Worse still, if you are selling something that is totally irrelevant to your audience, is probably best you re-read tips 4, 5 and 6. I try follow Chris Brogan's 12:1 ratio. The idea behind the 12:1 ratio is to promote other people or share useful / interesting content 12 times to every self-promotional tweet.
So there you go Readers. 7 Twitter Tips for Businesses. What do you think?
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