By now, most people have heard of the social networking service Twitter. Some like it, some hate it, some say it’s a passing fad, and some say they don’t have time to even think about it. But like all social media, it presents a great marketing opportunity for particular kinds of businesses.

It’s not as easy as some would like you to think, however. There are a couple of important things to note before you set up a Twitter profile for your company or brand.

1. Is there any point?

First and foremost, Twitter is only useful for your business if your customers are already using it. Is your target audience the kind that tweets? If you don’t know, then that’s the first place you should start: with some research.

2. Be consistent

Social networking presences for businesses can only be successful if they are consistent. In the case of Twitter, you need to be posting updates, checking for mentions or replies, engaging with your audience, and expanding your network on a daily basis. That can be a considerable investment of time, without even considering the time required to learn how to use Twitter to good effect in the first place.

3. Learn the system first

We see so many businesses using Twitter that don’t know the correct etiquette – and to an experienced Twitter user, that’s immediately obvious! This is one case where just ‘diving in’ and learning as you go can potentially cause more harm to your brand than good.

So what’s the best way to learn? We recommend signing up for Twitter as a private individual and spending some time seeing how people and brands interact, as well as picking up the associated etiquette and the right language. Before long, you’ll see who’s doing it right and who’s not. A flow-on benefit to tweeting as an individual is that, once you start making connections, those people can be invaluable in helping you grow your business network.

4. Remember to engage

The golden rule of marketing is that it’s all about your customer – not about you. This is especially the case online. On Twitter, it’s even more important. Successful brands engage and interact with their audiences, they don’t just broadcast; and more importantly, they make the interactions valuable to their audiences.

This means that you will need to look at what your followers are talking about, and, where appropriate, become part of that conversation.

5. Put it all together

Online marketing isn’t difficult, but with Twitter if you get the basics wrong, the results can be disastrous. In the best case, no one will even know you’re there, but in the worst case you could do real damage to the reputation of your brand.

Spending the time to do it right, however, and the pay-off for your business can be huge. Interested in using Twitter for your brand? Contact us.