Elemental Communication's Tim Gibbon gives his advice

1. Twitter is not a broadcast tool, it's about dialogue and community – become part of the community with your followers.

2. Don't gatecrash conversations: be respectful of the people you follow and initiate conversations yourself (ask questions of your followers).

3. Inject personality into your posts. If posting from a corporate that's managed by more than one person then consider identifying each poster by an initial or symbol so followers can get to know individuals (Twitter is a personal communication tool).

4. Use hashtags sparingly and thoughtfully. Never use more than two hashtags per tweet – it makes them harder to read.

5. There can be a fine line between posting frequently and spamming. Add value with each and every tweet.

6. Have a plan before diving in head-first. Who has overall responsibility of the Twitter account? Are you prepared to respond and act on a moment's notice (timing is key)?

7. Create a profile background that can display your products, brand identity and so on (if that's your goal). Include a balanced mix of personal and corporate information in the profile and make sure your URL is there.

8. Reach out to people that you and/or the brand has an interest in and follow them. A mistake many make is trying to collect followers as if the higher number of followers, the better. Again, it's about value. Is it better to have 10,000 followers that you know nothing about, or 1,000 followers who really love your brand and are interested in what you have to say? The reverse is true: don't follow people just for the sake of it.

9. Give something back. Offer something such as a discount or promotional offer, or even insight into news that hasn't been officially announced elsewhere. It shows that you appreciate your customers and value the relationship you're building.

10. There are many aspects to a company, not just the products you need to shift, so make sure this is reflected in your tweets. Post about customer service, post about the things you are doing well and also importantly, the things you're not doing so well. Use it as an opportunity to get honest feedback and learn.

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First published in .net Issue 194

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