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How to attract and engage Twitter followers

Twitter guide for businesses

Twitter is one of the golden technologies of the moment. It’s an ideal resource for companies, celebrities, journalists and, indeed, any individual who feels the need, to build an online presence and engage with their customers or fans. For businesses, maintaining a Twitter account is increasingly important. We’d even go so far as to say it’s essential.

The micro-blogging site has become so well-established that not being a member of the Twitterati can make your business appear unprofessional in the eyes of some customers. Being able to provide instant feedback on your products or direct complaints to a listening ear is an invaluable service.

In these tough economic times, it’s important that you use every tool available to you to maximise revenue. With an increasingly literate and tech-savvy customer base, not having a Twitter presence is akin to shooting yourself in the foot.

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Simply registering with Twitter isn’t enough. You also need to properly manage your presence, and ensure that you’re responding to any tweets directed to your company. Twitter is also the one medium where the old adage that ‘any publicity is good publicity’ doesn’t always ring true; there are plenty of examples of gaffes that have cost companies dear.

Earlier this year, for instance, an employee of a US ad agency tweeted: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no-one here knows how to ******* drive.” Chrysler, one of its clients, failed to see the funny side; the agency lost the account.

Such incidents happen more than you might think, but this isn’t the only way in which tweets can do you or your company a disservice. Boring or repetitive tweets won’t gain you any followers, for example, and there’s no point in you talking when nobody’s listening.

Business Advisor

Here, we explain how your business can build and maintain a useful Twitter presence.

Step 1. It’s possible to see what other people are tweeting without becoming a member of Twitter yourself. However, the service is free to join and, once signed up, it’s much easier to navigate the site. Head to twitter.com to register. Choose your account name carefully – you want customers to be able to find you.

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Step 2. Publicise your Twitter account anywhere you can in order to attract more followers. Key areas include your website, blog and email signature, but you should also add your Twitter address to your company letterhead, business cards, advertising and any other marketing materials you may produce.

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Step 3. Make the most of your Twitter feed. Provided that the majority of tweets are relevant, consider adding a feed to your blog or home page. Getting this to work might be a simple matter of using a predesigned bit of code. If you use WordPress, for example, you can drag a Twitter widget into your blog.

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Step 4. Where possible, link to your company’s feed using the @ tag (such as @PCAdvisor). You can also use the @ tag to grab the attention of particular Twitter users. This is a subtle way of showing other members that you take Twitter seriously; use it well, and they may be more inclined to follow you.

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Step 5. If several members of staff are logging into the same Twitter account, ensure that they understand Twitter etiquette and know what is and is not acceptable to tweet. Drawing up a policy is a good start and will make clear your expectations of them. Explain that sanctions will apply if the policy isn’t followed correctly.

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Step 6. If a bad tweet gets posted, damage limitation is in order. Deleting the tweet will remove it from your own feed, but many of your followers will have already seen it and some may have even retweeted the post. Apologise profusely. Say you’ll do something about it, and make sure you’re seen to do so.

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