There’s lots of social media sites publishing info on how to use Twitter for business. A lot of ’em have it wrong.

Here’s the basic premise to using Twitter for your business the right way:

  • Converse, Don’t Sell
    The worst thing you can do is to constantly pitch your wares (or your website) without regard to what your overall Twitter profile looks like. Think of it this way: if a dude walked into your favorite coffee joint, handed you a business card, told you about the latest sale, and then walked away – and did it every time you visited that coffee shop – wouldn’t you want to punch him in the nose?
  • Seriously, Converse
    If 50-75% of your tweets aren’t conversations with at least one @ mention in them, you’re failing. And I don’t just mean spamming people individually with your offer. I mean full-on conversations about people stuff. You know, like kids and cats and dogs and your local sports team (get it together Broncos!)
  • Re-Tweet relevant local news and tweets
    Is there a flood in your area? A wicked sale at the farmer’s market? A missing child? A new business? Re-Tweet every chance you get.
  • Share useful – and relevant – links you find online (but not too many)
    Is there a new trend in your market? Is there a new niche emerging that you want to know how your customers feel about? Share it – ask the question, but give the link context, otherwise it may look like spam.
  • Finally, when in doubt – don’t use it!
    Seriously. Walk away. Use it as a search or listening tool rather than an another marketing channel. It’s better not to use it at all than to use it the wrong way – you can do serious damage to your brand and business by using Twitter the wrong way. Just use to see what people are talking about in your town or what people are saying about your business.

Bottom line: Twitter is a great communication and information gathering tool. You can definitely earn some business or credibility as an expert, but there’s a substantial about of work and content that is required first! Beware anyone who tells you different.

(Header image: Twitter for Dummies by laughingsquid)