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How to run a successful corporate Twitter account

Tips on marketing your business on Twitter

While LinkedIn is strictly business and Facebook is working for consumer marketers, Twitter is the social network that all businesses, of any size, can use. Here are our top tips on using Twitter's 280 character format for b2b marketing.

Choose a suitable profile photo.

This can be your face, your company logo or any other picture you fancy using. But remember this is the image other Twitter users will associate with you and your company. Consider how the image you choose will make people think of you. Don’t be tempted to use a picture of somebody else – somebody, somewhere will know and authenticity is important on Twitter. Because the profile photo looks so small on the screen, headshots and head & shoulders shots work better than full body shots. Don’t change your profile photo too frequently – it is a major part of your Twitter brand which your followers will get used to seeing every day.

Complete your bio.

Your bio appears under your photo on your profile page. People will see it while they are deciding whether or not to press the Follow button. If you say something offensive, daft or pretentious here it might put people off following you. There is just enough room for a couple of sentences, so try to say something interesting or witty. But do make sure it’s spelt right. It’s fine to change your bio as often as you like – generally it will only be read by people thinking of following you.

Follow people.

Follow your friends. Follow your business acquaintances. Follow a few celebrities. Follow your favourite magazine or newspaper. Follow your clients. Follow your potential clients. Follow whoever you want. A varied Twitter timeline makes for a better Twitter experience. And the more people you follow the more people will follow you back.

Follow back.

If someone follows you, look at their profile and their most recent tweets. If there is nothing there that offends you or makes you dislike the person, follow them back. They’ve made the effort to follow you – this means they are interested in what you have to say. The least you can do in return is give reading their tweets a chance. If this proves to be a mistake you can always unfollow them at a later date. Or mute them – muting someone means that their tweets will no longer appear on your Twitter feed but they will not know this. To mute someone, go to their profile and click on the cog next to the follow button and select the mute option.

Tweet.

To be successful on Twitter you need to have interesting things to say, be likeable, believe in what you say and engage with other Twitter users. This applies to corporate Twitter accounts as much as to personal Twitter accounts. A faceless corporate Twitter account constantly spewing out links to press releases and interminable news about itself will be far less successful than a Twitter account that exhibits the personality of the person writing the tweets.

Tweet when you have something to say – you’re launching a new product, you have a discount offer, your website is broken, a film star is in your office today – these are all things that your Twitter followers might want to hear about. A stream of corporate slogans or inspirational quotes will be less popular.

It’s also fine to tweet about the small things – “It’s Sarah’s birthday today and she’s bought doughnuts for everyone in the office!” adds a human touch to your tweets and will encourage your followers to respond.

Interact.

Interact with other Twitter users. Twitter has 232 million users. These 232 million users are not all going to read your tweets. Even most of your followers won’t see all of your tweets because the vast majority of them will just be glancing at Twitter now and then. Your perfectly crafted tweets will often get no response.

But when someone does respond to one of your tweets you should always acknowledge this with a reply (‘thank you’, ‘I agree’, or ‘ha ha!’ will do if you can’t think of anything better). Or you can 'like' their tweet or even retweet their tweet. If you like or retweet someone’s tweet, Twitter will send them a notification on Twitter and sometimes an email or an alert on their phone if they have selected this in their settings. Never ignore someone on Twitter – as well as being impolite it is not good for your brand.

Twitter is called a social media site for a reason – most people are on there to be sociable. Take a few minutes now and again to read your timeline and see what the people you follow are saying. Before long you’ll see something that you can respond to: a question that you know the answer to, someone asking for advice on a subject you know about, or just someone saying something with which you agree or disagree. And remember people appreciate their tweets being retweeted and liked. Once you’ve broken the ice with someone on Twitter they are far more likely to read your tweets and interact with the things you post.

Tweet links.

If you have a blog or a website with content you want to share with your followers, tweet a short comment followed by a link to it. Driving people to your website through Twitter will boost its ranking on Google. Or if you’ve seen an article on a news website that you want to share with your followers make a brief comment followed by a link to the article. People tend to respond to this type of tweet.

Use hashtags.

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the # symbol – for instance #marketing or #Xfactor. If you add a hashtag to a tweet, other Twitter users including those who don’t follow you can search for that hashtag and see all tweets that contain that hashtag, including yours. Using hashtags gives your tweets a far bigger potential audience. But do try to choose a hashtag that is relevant to the content of your tweet.

Short tweets get noticed.

They do. Try it.

Do questions get responses?

Yes they do. It’s human nature to be helpful and also to show off. If you ask a question on Twitter the chances are that somebody will answer it. This is another way to break the ice and start forming relationships with other Twitter users. It can be as simple as ‘Did anyone else get soaked to the skin on the way to work this morning?’or more technical such as ‘Does anyone know how to concatenate cells in Excel?’.

Corporate Twitter accounts don’t have to be boring.

Some examples of successful corporate Twitter accounts:

@centralline
This account for the London Underground line could be deadly dull because really all it has to say is that the line is running well or there is a broken down train somewhere in Essex. However there is a small team who take it turns to run the Twitter account and personalise it with tweets such as:

‘Hi all, Sheila in tonight. Good service currently on the line.’ You’d be surprised how many retweets Sheila gets.

@ArenaFlowers
The Twitter account for this florist business has a bizarre but extremely successful approach. It rarely (if ever) tweets about flowers but has built up a 24,000-strong following with eccentric tweets such as:
‘When you’re asked what your weaknesses are at a job interview, look lovingly into their eyes, place your hands on theirs and say: “You”.’
and:
‘As The Beatles sang, Eleanor Rigby kept a face in a jar by the door. She also had a leg under the sink and a kidney in the bread bin.’

While this unusual approach won’t be suitable for everyone it just shows that there are many ways to run a successful Twitter account that raises the profile of a business.

Another account that uses this technique well is @Betfairpoker. Tweets such as:
‘England’s biggest mistake was letting other countries know about football.’
and:
‘Today I’m dressing for the weather. I’m wearing pyjamas, a dressing gown, a duvet and my bedroom.’
have built up a following of almost 30,000. It never tweets about poker but has made tens of thousands of people aware that there is something called Betfair Poker.

The @BTCare account is British Telecom’s customer services Twitter account. A team of Northern Ireland-based corporate tweeters use this account to respond to complaints and comments on Twitter about BT’s services. Always polite and always friendly, they’ve sent 669,000 tweets since 2009 and are a great example of how to use Twitter as a customer relationship tool.

It’s OK to say the same thing twice.

Very few people read everything that is tweeted by everyone they follow. Most people dip in and out of Twitter now and then, perhaps once a day, maybe less often. So if you have a particular message you want to get out there say it a few times. But bear in mind that Twitter will not allow you to post identical consecutive tweets, so either change the wording slightly for the second tweet or tweet something else in between.

Use Twitter analytics.

Happily this tool is nothing like Google Analytics. It is freely available here https://analytics.twitter.com and is easy to use. It shows you every tweet you’ve written and the impressions (number of potential readers), engagements (number of retweets, replies, likes, clicks on links) and engagement rate for each tweet. This will show you which of your tweets work best and will help you develop a way of using Twitter that works for you and your audience.

Never send automated DMs.

Direct messages (DMs) are private messages between two Twitter users. Nobody else can see them. You can only send DMs to people who follow you. Many corporate Twitter accounts have made the mistake of using a program to send automated DMs to new followers that say things like ‘Welcome to our tweets! Thanks for following! Why not like us on Facebook too!’. The vast majority of Twitter users do not like this impersonal approach and many people immediately unfollow accounts that do this.

How to use Electric Marketing’s Twitter lists.

Electric Marketing’s mailing lists now include company Twitter names. Our thinking is that following a company on Twitter is a good way to start a conversation with your prospective client. You follow them, they follow you back, who knows what may flow from that? At the very least you gain an insight into their current views, corporate and brand activity.