Twitter, a platform about 140 characters, is by far the easiest network that mankind has ever created, though it has evolved now from a conversation platform to a content one. However, there has been another problem with brands or SME’s that they struggle with Twitter. So, I have addressed 21 basic questions that brands or anyone who wants to use Twitter for business would need to know.

1. Why should I be on Twitter?

I can’t answer on what should be your objective but without having a clear thought process, don’t jump in. The best way is to ask yourself that why someone should follow you. If you think you are a cool brand and people would love your content then do so, if you think you are on Twitter to connect with people personally then do so., a startup is out there on Twitter to connect in a cool way and Airtel India is employing Twitter for customer support. So no matter what you are as a brand, be clear why you should be on Twitter. Don’t be because you have to be!

2. How will people find me?

The best way is by creating buzz on the other social channels that your brand is active. If you are on Facebook then don’t shy off by updating them on the page or if you have a blog then make use of it. This might get some attention but it will take some time before people recognize you for your content. Everyone is not Sachin Tendulkar or Tata Docomo or MTV India.

3. Should I follow tweeps?

Twitter is an open forum and following tweeps is not bad either. There are brands that don’t follow anyone on Twitter but then they have millions of tweeps following them. The simple reason is that these people or brands have a very strong offline clout. Dalai Lama is a good example for this but then a brand like Jet Airways follows 641 people. So go on and add, you won’t do harm to anyone.

why-should-i follow you on twitter4. Whom should I follow?

Twitter provides the ability to follow people but then that doesn’t mean that you go out on a mission to add everyone on this planet So before adding anyone ask a question – what value you would derive from following them.

You are a brand and want to follow your market then following some journalists would be cool or startups can follow Angels and build a relationship. Follow people or brands but make sure you know why you are doing it. Don’t do it to increase your following count since if your follower count is less then it would be clear to others that you are a troll and love to follow people.

A better way would be taking a bunch of tweeps whom you want to observe at first then use the Twitter Lists facility. Once you are confirmed that they are adding value then go ahead and follow them.

5. Should I follow back always?

I have seen people following like 2000 tweeps and then followed by 3000 tweeps. These are those interesting souls who believe you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. But for a brand I think the focus should be again about what is the need to follow someone; It is good to follow back if someone is adding value. However, just doesn’t make any sense to follow back always unless you are out there for numbers.

6. What should I tweet?

To answer this question, first you should have an answer for “Why Should I be on Twitter.” So be clear with your objective and the content strategy will fall in place. If you are on Twitter for customer support then most of your tweets would be focusing on that along with a mix like BookMyShow does.

7. How many tweets in a day?

10 or 20 tweets don’t matter, what matters is that are they making sense to your followers. Twitter is a very fast medium so 5 to 6 tweets produced by you should be enough. Again, it is hard to give a number but after a while you would get to know if you are dishing out spam or generating value to your followers. If you are a brand, this matters so think of quality rather than quantity.

twitter salesman8. How many tweets about my product?

“I am on Twitter for marketing about my product, how much tweets should be about my product”, is a question that I come across at conferences. Everyone knows that end of day social media is marketing for your product and you would want to make money but then don’t be a salesman on Twitter.

You can share 2 to 3 tweets but then don’t be on Twitter to just push your product. People know who you are from your Twitter bio. Believe in the idea of building relationships and not acquiring customers initially on Twitter.

9. When should I tweet?

Another common question and you can’t have a perfect answer for it. Depending on the market you cater, you should time your tweets. If your audience is from India then there is no point in tweeting at 3 in the morning. Space your tweets well and monitor it. I have always focused on the quality rather than timing but have monitored it too. Most brands prefer to spread the tweets since you don’t need to be free to watch your tweets. You can always quickly check from your mobile too. You have apps like Tweriod, SocialBro that tell you when is the best time for you to tweet but then I prefer to do it on my own.

10. Should I tweet my old tweets?

I haven’t seen most brands doing it but if you produce a lot of original content then you can do so. I do the same but I put an “Archives” word before I tweet. It makes more sense to tell your community that it is an archived content that you are sharing and I have seen a lot of clicks to archived content too. Everyone is not online always so you can do it. Tweet Old Post is a WordPress plugin that does it for you but I prefer to do this manually.

11. Should I retweet?

Appreciating good content is not bad and it has always given good results. But two things should be kept in mind – don’t be a retweeting parrot and don’t retweet just to impress an influencer. Retweet content when you think it is interesting and share with your tweeps only when it will add value.

One small tip – try adding some of your thoughts to the content. You are definite to raise some conversations.

12. Should I talk to tweeps?

No one likes PR messages in the form of 140 characters. So talk to tweeps but don’t try to fake it. Remember you are a brand and people won’t find it okay to see a brand getting too close. Be normal and talk when you have to. Just don’t do it for the heck and know your limits by respecting them. Otherwise you lead up to something similar as what happened to Volkswagen India.

13. Should I schedule tweets?

We can’t be online 24*7 so if you want to schedule your tweets, there is no harm in it. I have been using Buffer for more than a year and now Hootsuite also provides a way to schedule your tweets. So schedule your tweets, space them properly but don’t only schedule them always. Try to keep a balance and don’t act hard to be a bot.

14. Should I address tough questions?

Don’t be on social media if you are only for accolades. Be ready to face brickbats and tough questions. Barring the trolls, I think people have genuine questions so address them. However, you don’t have to address every single question but don’t avoid the ones that need your attention. If it can’t be entertained in 140 characters take it offline but make sure you address the resolution. Doing this sends out a good message to all your followers that you have taken time and addressed the issue.

say sorry on twitter15. Should I apologize on Twitter?

I’m not sure why a brand avoids a sorry when it has done a mistake. Internet is full of stories where we have seen that whenever a brand has been smart and tried to avoid the truth, it has been severely criticized. Whether it is the government or a brand, no one can run from it. So if you have done something wrong, apologize, address the situation quickly, fix it and move ahead.

16. How should I grab attention of influencers?

Why would an influencer talk to you and that too when you are a brand on a platform where she is out to interact with her fans? Today the trend is that if you want to get a hashtag trended, one way is to tag an influencer and wish that she retweets for you. Well there are people who tweet for a brand since there is a synergy between the two. But then all may not work or think the same.

So list your influencers in a Twitter list and add value to conversations when there is a need. If you monitor an influencer in your industry then you will notice that she will ask for help at some point of time. Don’t be a salesman but make a point to help the person. On social media try to be a brand who is there to help and not to market products. And once in a while, you can tag useful information to influencers but it may work or it may not. Social media is all about experimentation!

17. Should I follow my competitors?

If you have problems in following your competitors then put them in a list and monitor them. It is good to keep a watch on what your competitors are doing. But don’t start cheap marketing antics; they don’t work in an open forum like Twitter. And if you want to have a banter with your competitors then do in the right spirit, don’t cross the line otherwise you might be the next one trending with a hashtag of #sucks

18. Will Twitter contests help?

Who doesn’t love freebies and today if you want to promote your product or do a launch, Twitter has become a great medium of doing so. Contests can help here but then running them regularly for free gift vouchers might not work. Add some value and then do it, this creates a lot of difference. One of the recent examples is #whatmenwant which was designed for Central’s ‘Men’s Special’ sale promotion.

19. Should I auto sync tweets with Facebook?

Sharing content on Facebook or vice versa is okay at times when there is a need. For example, if you are running a contest then it is fine. However make sure that you do it manually. If you schedule or publish it via an app then most of the times, the content on the Twitter says if you agree then “Like” it. And please don’t auto sync every tweet on Facebook. Sharing the same content everywhere becomes spam for your community.

20. Should I have a logo or a personal face?

Bigger brands are known by a logo so it’s good to carry on the way the world knows it. However, listing the details of the person responsible for the Twitter account adds accountability like Ford India does but then most don’t do it as they are run by agencies. If you are a startup/SME, then it is advisable that the founder handles the account. It not only adds a face to an unknown brand but it comes across as a human handling the account and not a bot. A debatable topic but pick what suits you.

21. Should I use hashtags?

Using hashtags with your tweets lets you identify the content that you have shared. So it is a good habit but don’t make every word a hashtag, use them rationally and don’t irritate your followers with your hashtags.

Apart from Twitter analytics, I have tried to cover the basic questions but if you have any more, then share them in the comments and I’ll be happy to address them.

Hope it helps and embed this if you want to score high on Twitter – Be human on Twitter.

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