Using Twitter for Brands or Corporate Identities

As most of you know, we launched Shizzow last week, and we began using the Shizzow Twitter account with it. I’ve been doing most (but not all) of the tweeting from the Shizzow account, and I wanted to share some best practices for using a corporate Twitter account effectively without being spammy.

Starting points

This post assumes that you are already familiar with Twitter and are using it for a personal account, but if you are new to Twitter, you’ll want to start by reading Tara Hunt’s Tweeting for Companies 101.

I am also assuming that you have already read my post about Social Media and Social Networking Best Practices for Business. If not, you might want to start there. It has quite a few tips for how to interact with social media sites and online communities that apply to using Twitter, but are not covered explicitly or in any detail in this post.

Best Practices

  • Know what people are saying about you. After you create your Twitter account and have the name reserved, but before you start using it, set up some tracking tools. You will want to know when people are replying and what people are saying about you on Twitter. Yesterday, I released a Twitter Sniffer for Brands pipe that will help you keep track of the conversations about you on Twitter. I’ve found that the Twitter Search (was Summize) actually misses some Tweets that will be caught by this pipe. This is a copy of the pipe that I am using to keep track of the conversations about Shizzow. I monitor the RSS feeds most of the day when I have time, but no less than 2-3 times per day. For extra credit, you should also be monitoring what people say about you on other blogs (Google Blog Search with RSS feeds or alerts might help).
  • Respond frequently and sincerely. Knowing what people say is only helpful if you actually use the information and respond to people. You will want to keep the responses public by using @replies wherever possible instead of DMs unless you are exchanging non-public info. Going back to my Best Practices post, you also need to be sincere and remember that it is not all about you when you respond to people. Be honest about what isn’t working well and how you plan to improve your products or services. Help people find information when you see them struggling or asking questions on Twitter. Respond to the tough, critical questions in addition to the easy ones.
  • Follow back. You will want to follow people back when they follow you on Twitter. It will help you listen and respond while allowing people to send you direct messages. See the ‘don’t proactively follow people’ section below for some cautions about following people.
  • Have a personality. Companies are made up of people, and you’ll want to show some personality in your tweets. Nobody wants to listen to a corporate drone or regurgitated marketing messages. Personalize the information and act like a real person in your responses.
  • Variety is Important. Include a wide variety of information in your Twitter stream without focusing too heavily on any one element. I try to shoot for a mix of informational posts (new features, blog posts), links to other people’s blog posts or retweets, @replies to questions, alerts about any issues or downtime for maintenance, meetups, and fun posts.

Things to Avoid

  • Don’t be a link spam account. This one is a little controversial, and some people will disagree with me here; however, I don’t think that you should use your Twitter account just to post links to blog posts. If people want your blog posts, they can get them via RSS. It is OK to link to informational blog posts, but I always put some text around it so that people can decide whether or not to click through. You should also be linking to posts from other blogs that are relevant to your company or industry as a whole. These should be a fairly small portion of your overall Twitter posts (see the variety is important section above).
  • Don’t go overboard. You should be providing information and replying to people, but you shouldn’t go overboard. I would say that posting no more than 5-10 times a day on average is a pretty good goal. Some days will have more and others less depending on the situation; however, if you post too much, you’ll start to lose followers who can’t keep up with the volume.
  • Don’t be too self-promotional. You should use your Twitter account to promote your activities; however, it should be a part of what you do. If every post talks about how awesome your company is, people will lose interest fairly quickly.
  • Don’t proactively follow people. People will find your Twitter account when you @reply them, and you can use your website / blog to promote it. You don’t want to start by following a few hundred (or thousand) people who don’t care about you or your product. It seems creepy to be followed by a random brand that you aren’t already following, and it just makes you look spammy. See the follow back section above for how to do this right.

For more information

Jeremiah Owyang just wrote a couple of interesting posts about corporate usage of Twitter: Why Brands Are Unsuccessful in Twitter and Web Strategy: The Evolution of Brands on Twitter. They provide some additional information and a slightly different take on how brands use Twitter.

Related Fast Wonder blog posts

5 Responses to “Using Twitter for Brands or Corporate Identities”


  • Great post Dawn. With a corporate Twitter account it’s really hard for people to connect with a Logo. I don’t use Comcast but I’ve been watching twitter.com/comcastcares, they don’t use a logo on their twitter account and they seem to connect better than other corporate twitter accounts that I have seen. Is it just me or do you think the interpersonal relations are important?

  • James,

    The interpersonal relations are critical. Anyone can set up a tool and use it (Twitter or otherwise). They key is being able to connect with other people in a meaningful and effective way.

    I’m not sure that it matters whether or not you use a logo. I use a logo for the Shizzow twitter account, but the tweets are conversational and responsive, which is the key from my perspective.

  • Nice rundown of advice and resources, Dawn. And a pipes app to boot! Funny thing is, I found this post because you tweeted about it, which you advise against under things to avoid. I’d say that for posts like this, there’s no harm in tweeting to let folks know.

  • I actually think Tweeting about posts is OK as long as you also tweet about other things, too. The key is to maintain balance with a variety of content in your tweets and to provide context that give people enough information to decide whether to click the link or not. I despise the Twitter posts (or emails or IMs or Twitter DMs) that have something like: “check this out http://myspammylinkhere” (especially if those links dominate the twitter stream). I always provide enough of a description so that people know what they are about to read; then the choice is up to them: click or ignore.

  • We really can’t deny the fact that businesses are testing out Twitter as part of their steps into the social media landscape. You can say it’s a stupid application, that no business gets done there, but there are too many of us (including me) that can disagree and point out business value. So I found the 17 ways you can use Twitter for both your professional or personal life in my blog

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