Using Twitter as a branding tool means making your tweets casual and friendly—yet strategically formulated for marketing ROI. Here's how
There is no right or wrong way to use Twitter. However, if you're using the micro-blogging service as a marketing tool to build your brand and business, you should follow the unwritten rules of Twitter use and etiquette to ensure your efforts deliver. Remember these basic do's and don'ts: 1. Do have a plan. It's easy to get sucked into "Internet time" and lose track of what you're doing when you begin publishing content and interacting on Twitter. Spend your time wisely by setting aside a specific time in the morning, midday, and late afternoon to use Twitter for business purposes, sharing content and engaging with other users during that time. 2. Don't overpromote. Stick to the 80-20 rule of marketing. Spend 80 percent or more of your Twitter time on activities that are not self-promotional. No one will want to interact with you if you're constantly talking about yourself and promoting your business. For example, the Red Bull Twitter feed is filled with useful information such as links to event information and tickets, questions posed to followers (e.g., "What's your best Red Bull recipe?"), and replies to consumer questions. For example, when people asked for information about the sound track in a video published on the Red Bull Twitter profile, Red Bull responded not just with the title but also with a link where they could download it. Try to offer similarly diverse tweets in your own Twitter stream. 3. Do integrate your Twitter efforts with your other marketing initiatives. The best marketing plan is a fully integrated one, which would include your Twitter activities. Cross-promote your marketing initiatives in every way you can (e.g., put a Follow Me icon on your website and in your blog and a link in your e-mail signature) and be sure to brand your Twitter profile design by giving it a unique background, color scheme, and profile picture to reflect your brand image consistently. 4. Don't get too personal or negative. If you're using Twitter as a marketing tool, you'll want the public to see your Twitter profile and all your updates, and that means anyone can see what you tweet. You never know where your tweets could end up as people retweet them, share them, and so on. Google (GOOG) indexes tweets, and the Library of Congress archives them. Don't say anything on Twitter you wouldn't say in person to your customers and the public at large. Avoid being lured into arguments or negative discussions that run counter to your brand promise. 5. Do engage and interact. It's not all about you. To make Twitter an effective marketing tool, you need to view it as a relationship-building opportunity. In other words, spend more time listening to other people, acknowledging them, and sharing their content than you do talking about yourself. Remember No. 2 above and don't overpromote. Read through the Whole Foods corporate Twitter feed to see how it's done. 6. Don't use corporate rhetoric and jargon. Unless your target audience expects to read jargon from you, avoid using it. For example, if you own a technical company but your target audience consists primarily of tech novices, shun confusing terms and other jargon that require a computer science degree to interpret. Similarly, avoid using corporate rhetoric at all costs. No one wants to follow and interact with a corporate brochure. Instead of a robotic tweet that says, "implementing a paradigm shift in our cross-functional customer service strategy," write a personable tweet that says, "working on a new customer service strategy that customers will love." Take a look at Naked Pizza's Twitter stream to see how a company can speak successfully in the language its target audience expects from the brand on Twitter.