These days, even if you don't use Twitter, you're a rare individual if you haven't even heard of it. It takes the social media phenomenon to a new level. On Twitter you can see and be seen, in only 140 characters. This means it's quick, and it forces you to get to the point of what you want to say. To find out how good a writer you are, just try and tell all of your followers a lot of news in only one tweet! In a way, Twitter is far more specialized than other social media outlets like Myspace, Facebook and Youtube. You can say anything you want, but it must fit the character limit. With URL shorteners such as bit.ly and tinyurl.com, you can link to other content on your company website, blog, other social sites, etc.
Let them know you're real
The networking and PR possibilities are endless!
For those who think social media sites are just so much "internet junk food", and irrelevant to your business quest, check out @zappos on Twitter. If you do a search for the term, you find all kinds of folks from celebs to unknowns going on about their Zappos, or about their despair on finding themselves to be the "only one who hasn't tried them". Genius level business strategy equals a Gotta Have It public mindset. Also, some tweeters just like having that virtual face-time with the company to post questions/comments.
Once you create your Twitter page, get out there and start following some people. RT's and @ replies will garner the same for you, and begin to get your name out there. This is stream-of-consciousness blogging basically, so keep your tweets current, interesting and productive. The goal is to be entertaining enough that your followers recommend you, then drive interest toward your main site and bring in business. Place a Twitter widget on your blog or other site as well. Someone who stumbled across your site first will probably follow you and recommend you to those who are looking for what your business has to offer. Check out this brief article with tips to gain clients' trust and a solid reputation.
Many find humor is a good attention-grabber on Twitter and can get your name out there fast, but be careful. Getting too far off the business mark can have unintended consequences.
This point has been illustrated already via Myspace and Facebook, but can be just as detrimental on Twitter. Don't tweet anything that you wouldn't want the world to know and associate with your business. People have lost jobs, clients and even relationships by forgetting that what you say on social sites becomes a part of the public forum. Even privacy settings sometimes can't save you from a word hastily typed. One rule of thumb I always keep in mind is- if you would be embarrassed for your family to see it, don't put it out there. Period.
Online prudence means never regretting a communication that you can't take back. A good example of the right way to do a business Twitter page might be @comcastcares. Responses are personable but professional, always offering alternate means of contact for protracted discussions or issues. It also doesn't hurt that the layout is easy on the eyes.
Too busy for twitter? Hire a freelancer!
Many of the larger names in business are starting to see the benefits as well. One such company which made news this year is Best Buy who cast out a net looking to hire someone specifically to tweet for them. By watching trends on Twitter, they caught onto the possibility for personal interaction and positive PR with consumers. Your average folk who, it must be said- are tired of being just a number. Treating a customer concern one on one puts a friendlier face on business and generates a rapport.
While a larger corporation may have no trouble hiring this media marketing contact from within, smaller firms may seek an independent consultant. Freelance services like oDesk or Elance are becoming more and more popular as a means to hire an experienced consultant. Here is an example search on for freelancers familiar with Twitter. I haven't tried the other freelance sites, but being a new user to oDesk, I can vouch that it is pretty simple to navigate. Hiring someone to help you really connect with your customers could just be a few clicks away!