Getting Twitter right: how to perfect your business tweeting strategy

If more than one person manages the feed, companies have two options. Firstly, they can create a style and tone of voice guide and ensure everybody with access to the feed is familiar with it. While this will help to maintain a consistent tone, the disadvantage is that a company-based, as opposed to people-based, strategy can run the risk of sounding bland and colourless.

The second option is to have different staff members introduce themselves at the beginning of their stint manning the feed, and sign off at the end. Some companies even ask staff members to conclude their tweets with their initials, so customers know to whom they are talking at all times. This is a useful way of ensuring a Twitter feed can remain authentic whilst hosting multiple voices.

Be careful, however, of allowing too many individuals free rein on your Twitter feed. In 2012, the Swedish government took the unprecedented step of allowing different citizens to run its @sweden feed each week, and while some were successful, others were less so, with individuals expressing rather controversial and forthright views on Hitler, the Jewish population and even tweeting pictures of strawberries covered in "milk and urine".

For a brand interacting at a consumer level, an irreverent but non-offensive tone may suit. Stay away from disparaging brands, politics, hearsay, rumours and anything that could be considered offensive.

For a corporate feed, it is possible to strike a balance between professional and accessible. Keeping jargon to a minimum and simplifying the messaging wherever possible are two good starting points.

Get the content right

Content is a crucial area for any business on Twitter. In order to gain followers and drive engagement, you need to share content that people want to read and talk about. It's not enough just to tweet press releases; you need to be actively starting and joining in with conversations that aren't directly related to your business.

Many successful feeds are dominated by content that doesn't directly relate to the brand, product or service being represented. As a general guide, aim for around 20% of the content you share to relate to the brand, including news, blogs and opinions from the company, news about campaigns, and campaign launches.

The remaining 80% can be content that has nothing to do with the day-to-day business of the brand. It could relate to the area in which the brand operates, or it could be humour, general miscellany and social media related news. It is possible to develop a feel for the type of content that people following the handle are going to like. For example, if you know that the majority of followers of the feed are female and interested in fashion and celebrity news, nonstop tweets about sport aren't likely to encourage the audience to engage.

Do share content from third parties but make sure it is always from respectable and reputable organisations. For a corporate feed, this should be reputable news sources and trade journals. For a consumer-facing feed, you can widen your net but be careful of gossip and hearsay.

Any data insight you can use will help you understand more about your audience. Use your CRM data and any other information you have to hand, to find out more about your customers.

It is useful to refer to third-party analytics like Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter's own analytics. When brands are first beginning to tweet, these services can offer particularly valuable insight into the type of content proving most successful.

Once a business has an established Twitter presence, it's likely its employees will have an instinctive feel for the sort of content that works, but analytics will remain a helpful sense-check.