Twitter is up to 14 million registered users and you can't swing a dead cat without hearing about some other news network, celebrity or household name brand getting in on the Twitter act.
Tempting isn't it?
Go ahead and be tempted, act even. Just be careful, I say. Twitter can be a great way to market your company. But like all things online, don't be shameless about it and for heaven's sake don't be a rookie.
Here are some of the biggest Bozo no-no's for businesses using Twitter:
1. Don't think of it as a tool to talk at potential customers. Twitter is most useful for listening. You tweet to get them to talk.
2. Having someone tweet for the company owner, etc. stinks like dog poop. If the person in the corner office can't do it herself (or himself), then don't bother. Someone always figures it out and it's really embarassing when it happens.
3. Twitter is 24/7. So you better plan on monitoring it 24/7, if you get in the game. There have been some interesting examples of companies that got slammed by public reaction on Twitter on a late Friday afternoon after the PR department had shut down for the week and by their return on Monday morning - yipes! Case in point, the Motrin Moms from last November who blew a gasket over a recent advertisement at the time.
4. There's no time for vetting copy. If your company is one of those companies that needs to tightly control all public-facing messages with rigorous editing and review by several layers of staff and perhaps, oh say, your corporate attorney; that's cool. Just don't bother with Twitter (or blogging or any other social networking tool for that matter). Responding promptly in real time is not negotiable. Instead make sure the person tweeting for the company is high enough up the food chain to make good judgements for the company (a lower person on the totem poll is likely not much of a drawing card for anyone to follow anyway). See rule #2, again.
5. Don't even think about paying people to follow your tweets or stacking your followers with bogus people planting bogus tweets. It's shameless, its obvious and you will get busted by your true followers.
Happy tax day, by the way.
I know! That's like wishing someone a happy root canal.
Last updated: Apr 15, 2009
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio