17/11/2011

USING TWITTER FOR BUSINESS

Some companies are using Twitter as a marketing or public relations channel, much like an extension to their corporate blogs. They will post about corporate accomplishments and distribute links that take people back to corporate web pages, press releases, and other promotional sites.

This method probably seems to be the easiest way to get started, but companies need to be aware that using Twitter like this could actually hinder their image in the Twitter community. A whole bunch of self-serving, self-promotional tweets can actually damage their reputation – Twitter folks like a personal touch.

GetOnIT also warns that responding to comments can be risky when going this route, but, while that’s true to a point, when done right responding on Twitter can be of great benefit to the company. To see some examples of brands that “get” how to tweet and respond, check out what Ford does, or Starbucks, or Dell.

The second method some companies use on Twitter is to let their employees tweet instead. As the employees use Twitter to enhance their own personal reputations, the company’s reputation is also enhanced by proxy. If this one is hard for you to understand, then perhaps a good example to demonstrate the power of the indirect method is in reverse: imagine what negative tweets about the company would look like. Take the case of the Yahoo employee who twittered throughout the layoffs, for example. How do you think that made Yahoo look at the time?

Now that you understand how employee tweets can affect the company negatively, understand that the reverse is also true. Employees twittering away with excitement about their work, developments in their industry, new products, or other interesting tidbits, even if unrelated to the company itself, can promote positive feelings for whichever business they (indirectly) represent.

Some companies use Twitter internally to share ideas or communicate about what projects they’re working on. If this information is confidential in nature, employees either need to protect their updates or even better, not use Twitter at all. Gartner doesn’t recommend using Twitter or any other consumer microblogging service in this way because there’s no guarantee of security.

If, however, your company wants to use microblogging at the office, there are tools designed for businesses that let you do just this. Yammer and present.ly are two of the top options for a Twitter-like platform for the workplace.

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