Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Eight Decisions Businesses Should Make for Using Twitter

For the last two days, PRSA San Antonio and the SA Public Library have kicked off our joint training sessions for local businesses and organizations on getting started with Twitter and how to use some amazing business tools that are available free on the library web site.

Since the Twitter part of the session is designed for organizations and businesses, I created a list of decisions they need to consider for using Twitter to engage customers and partners. Here they are:

1. Create a username (Twitter ID) that is short, memberable and associated with you. A factor in this decision is whether to use a branded or indiviual username or a combination. There are pros and cons to each option.

2. Select your Twitter image. Do you want a photo of yourself or the owner or do you want a logo. Again, the right choice depends on how you will use Twitter.

3. Create a background for your Twitter “home page.” This is also where you will put information about your company that won’t fit in the 160-character bio in your profile. You can either design your own template, or find a free one online or hire a designer who knows how to do it. The background and info should reflect your brand clearly.

4. Decide who in your organization will tweet and set a general guideline for how often. This is probably more important in the early stages. Later, the enagement of your followers will guide your level of activity. But I must say, if the boss’ photo and name are on the account, then the boss should be the one using the account. If he or she can’t or won’t, then someone else’s name and photo should be on the account.

5. Plan how you will promote your business’ Twitter ID. Include it in the footer of your emails, on your web site, in all your fliers and brochures, etc.

6. Plan for how you will respond to criticism. If there is any, it was happening already. Twitter gives you an opportunity to engage critics and customers who are having trouble.

7. Make sure you have set up organizational policies for your employees, including for their personal use of social media in terms of how it might affect your organization. Tie your social media policies to your existing ones. For example, that policy you have prohibiting sexual harassment applies to the online world.

8. Decide how you will measure success. Why are you using Twitter? There are very specific ways to measure links to your web site through Twitter, types of tweets that tend to get retweeted, growth in followers right after a specific appeal, etc. You can also build in processes like asking customers how they heard of you.

There is more information and suggestions about most of these topics online. In addition to searching, you can refer to our chapter's Delicious page for some links. (Click on the "Twitter" tag.) I'll also be posting the session PowerPoint slides there later today or tomorrow.