Monday 13 July 2009

Twitter for Business FAQ: Most common questions asked by Twitter-for-business newbies

Twitter is still a scary, untamed frontier for many businesses. They know that they should be engaging with the Twitter community, but aren’t sure how to do it. I’ve collected up some of the most common questions asked by Twitter-for-business newbies and answered them below.

Is it bad to have a lopsided following/followers ratio?

Balance is better. Following 150 people with only 75 following is OK. If you have more lopsided figures of, say, 300 following to 75 followers, that might give tweeters pause before they consider following you. Focus on quality over quantity.

How do I stop people from following me?

Block them. Go to the person’s Twitter page and click “Block” in the sidebar under “Actions.” Once you block someone, they won’t show up in your followers list.

I’m concerned that a follower of my company is a porn site. What if my clients see such a follower prior to my blocking them?

First off, most folks don’t have time to analyze your list of followers. Secondly, most people know that spammers go after everyone and we don’t always catch them all. So it’s not a concern, unless you have lots of them.

If you block someone, is there a way to see those you blocked, in case you want to reverse your decision?

You can reverse your decision by going to the person’s Twitter page and clicking “Unblock” under “Actions.” You can view a list of people you’ve blocked, but it’s an XML file and not very readable:

Should I protect my Twitter page, so I can avoid spammers and such?

This is a bad idea, particularly if you’re using Twitter for business. Some Twitter users don’t follow people who protect their updates.

I’m trying to implement Twitter at my company, but can’t get executive buy-in. What can I do?

Many businesses are using Twitter to connect and exchange ideas with customers. It might help to do a search to find case studies and examples of businesses using Twitter and show how they’ve benefited.

Do you recommend having separate Twitter accounts for business personal use?

That depends. Many people have a single account that they use for all because it adds personality. But if you like to share strong opinions and talk about sensitive topics like religion or politics, then a separate personal account would be wise. It also depends on what you represent. Are you working for a large company and tweeting in its name or are you a one-person business?

What are the liabilities associated with a business using Twitter?

It’s up to the business. The company might want to consider drafting a policy on the company’s rules for how employees use Twitter and other social networking sites. Suggestions for things to address include usage, company disclosure and consequences for violating policy.

Who should manage a company’s Twitter account? Marketing? Product Management? Sales?

It’s important to note that Twitter users easily detect fakery. Who does the tweeting depends on the purpose of the Twitter account(s). Be honest about who is doing the tweeting. Avoid having personnel far removed from the executives to do the CEO’s tweeting, for example.

What are those words starting with # like “#b2b”?

They’re hashtags. They make it easier to tag references to a topic, event or other common factor. For example, if someone tweets about a job opportunity, he could tag it with “#jobs” so those looking for jobs can easily find it.

Should you use a account name that is recognized to be associated with your company, or not?

For business-related Twitter accounts, you should either use your real name or your company’s name. If you use the company’s name, you should put your real name in your profile. If multiple people tweet from the same company account, then say so in the profile. List their names, if you can.

If the people you are following are listed on your Twitter page, how do you prevent people from clicking on your competition? Can you follow someone without it being listed?

It’s better to not hide the people you follow, even your competition. Having open dialogue with your industry — including your competitors — will help you earn trust and credibility. If you really want to follow someone without them knowing, then subscribe to their Twitter RSS feed.

How often should a business tweet?

Avoid posting many tweets in a short space of time and overwhelming followers’ streams. Think quality over quantity. A good rule of thumb is to post few tweets spread out over the course of the day.

How do you respond to people who say something good or bad about your business?

Being able to rapidly respond to any news about your business is valuable. If it’s good, either tweet the person directly or in a direct message (DM). You don’t want to bug people with a short “Thank you for that.” If it’s something bad, try to solve the problem or ask questions to find out the problem. If you find out the problem and you’re researching the answer, don’t wait until you find the answer to respond. You can respond quickly with a “We’re researching this and will get back to you.”

Should I block followers who have nothing to do with my business?

No — unless they’re spammers or have inappropriate content.

How can we quickly build up our list of people to follow?

Use or an application like, which can search profiles for keywords. However, don’t be in a hurry to build a big list. Remember lopsided followers/following is not good.

Is there a way to integrate CRM with Twitter?

Some CRM applications include Twitter and other social media sites as part of the app. Some have add-ons. If yours doesn’t, create a custom field.

How do I get leads on Twitter?

Focus on providing value with your tweets. Spread out links to your own content, because doing it too often turns off many users. Help others, ask questions and share thoughts about your industry or business in general. These are just a few of many ways you can build relationships on Twitter.

What ways have you found Twitter useful in your business?

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