Twitter for business: How to ensure it’s your friend… and not your foe

Dead twitter bird - How to use Twitter for Business

Twitter has become a standard platform for businesses looking to strengthen marketing and broaden their customer outreach. But there are a few Do’s and Don’ts you should stick to, if you want to get the most out of every Tweet whilst avoiding any public mishaps.

For businesses, especially customer-facing ones, Twitter seems a no-brainer.

Let’s crunch the numbers. As of November 2016, in the USA, 74% of Twitter followers follow SMEs to get regular product updates while 47% users who follow a brand on Twitter are more likely to visit the company’s website.

Back this side of the pond, there are currently 13.1 million UK Twitter users.

Used well, it can be a marketer’s dream and can catapult a company’s reputation – and its bottom line – to new heights.
A timely tweet, a bit of quick thinking and sound judgement can turn 140 characters into money-can’t-buy exposure.

Take Oreo as a case in point. Back in 2014, a blackout at the 2014 Super Bowl plunged one of the sporting world’s most iconic events into darkness.

Oreo's deliciously clever Tweet during nationwide Blackout
Oreo's deliciously clever Tweet during nationwide Blackout

Whoever was in charge of everyone’s favourite milk cookie (other biscuits are available!) earned their money and then some. The hastily-posted tweet ‘’Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark’’ has become a legendary tweet. Did it result in people going out the next day and buying Oreos? Almost certainly. Brand reputation enhanced? 15,000+ retweets certainly would suggest so.

Of course, you don’t need to be an international brand to harness the power of Twitter for business. If you’re an SME, the personal touch, great tone of voice, engaging content and a killer hashtag can see you ride the crest of the Twitter wave.

However, Twitter can a cruel mistress.

What’s the worst that can happen? You achieve no direct sales. But then, you’ve not lost anything, you’re simply in the same position as you were in before you set up your Twitter handle.

But what about your brand’s reputation? Can you really afford to potentially jeopardise years of hard work building your reputation in 140 characters or less?

As of right now, there are 13.1 million Twitter users here in the UK.

Let’s take a look at Tesco. Back in 2013, the supermarket giant scheduled a tweet to go out to followers in the evening saying “It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay. See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets.”

All good practice, you would think. However, this just so happened to be the day the horse meat scandal hit. Cue thousands of complaints and a grovelling apology. All publicity good publicity? Not in this instance.

Rules to follow when using Twitter for business

Twitter is great. Done properly, it can be incredibly beneficial to your company. Here are few simple rules to follow that will help your company flourish through Twitter:

  • Embrace it! You live and breathe your company’s culture, visions, and values. Make sure they come across in your Twitter etiquette.
  • Give the keys to the right person We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Think long and hard about the right kind of person to manage your Twitter account. You need to be in safe hands.
  • Be creative Don’t just tweet because you haven’t tweeted for a few days. Have a strategy and mix it up. Utilise hashtags, interact with your followers, take advantage of current trends and topics.

  • Stop using Twitter for the sake of it Yes, your competitors are probably using Twitter for business. However, if you’ve not got a real plan and you’re using it just because you feel you should be doing, chances are you’re doing your reputation more harm than good.
  • Don’t be too ‘salesy’ You’re investing precious time in Twitter so you want to get something tangible out of it. But you can be followed and unfollowed in seconds. Someone may well be interested in you but a ‘buy this now’ approach is unlikely to go down well.
  • Avoid Following for no reason Sure, the more followers you have the more impressive you’ll look and one way of achieving this is the ‘follow back’ method. But do you really want your timeline dominated by irrelevant content?

Read more about avoiding and recovering from any social media disasters here

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