Twitter can be a very effective distribution channel for providing support and building community. I think there are seven simple methods that can help build out your company’s twitter presence effectively.
Create Great Content
Make sure that you’re saying things or creating content that’s worth reading. This should be targeted to your core audience and be interesting to read. Content can be links to your blog, interesting things you’re reading, or conversation starters directed to Friend Feed. Whatever you do: Please don’t constantly tweet about your service’s purpose – it’s not interesting or engaging.
Keep Tweets Shorter (< 100 Chars)
You want your Tweets to be short enough to be re-tweeted effectively. This means that you really have 100 characters to engage your audience so they can easily add their own thoughts and re-tweet (RT) your content. Doing this is key to increasing reach and increasing the re-production rate outside of your current follower base.
Provide A Way to Engage
I recommend directing the conversation to services that are better at managing threads (e.g., FriendFeed, A blog with Disqus). Providing this link allows people to engage with the content in a meaningful way. A few people like to comment and even more like to read the comments. This creates an even better destination for your users.
Time Your Tweets
Don’t turn your stream into serious noise. Limit the number of tweets per day (Between 5 and 10). Seriously. Too many tweets will get you unfollowed fast. People want a clear signal from your company not one that they have to sort through for an hour. This also means that you should time content based tweets throughout the day. Don’t load up 5 tweets at once. If necessary, use a service like HootSuite to schedule your tweets.
Track Your Tweets
Always track your tweets. Use one of the many services that allow you to shorten your URL to something that’s trackable. One caveat: URL shortening services are becoming the next phishers paradise. I recommend that you use one of the well-known ones: TinyUrl or Bit.ly. (Shorter is better, that’s why I think Twitter went with Bit.ly recently.) Monitor the success rates (clicks) of your content. Optimize your content and conversation for how people respond. Another service for follow / unfollow timing based on Tweets is: Socialtoo. That way you can see what tweets are effective (more followers) and ineffective (more unfollowers).
People click on things they’re curious about or want to know more about. It’s important to include one of these elements in your tweets that captures one of these two elements. Doing this will increase your click-through and engagement with your audience.
Twitter is more than a content distribution system. You should also converse with your followers, be helpful and provide fantastic, instant support. To this end, I recommend that you personify your Twitter account with a real person. This helps increase the connection between your company (as a person) and your audience (people too). After all, as I believe Tony Hsieh said, people connect with people. So, be personable.