So you've decided to open a Twitter account for your business in 2015. Good for you. As they say, better late than never.

Twitter can be a remarkable outlet for getting important information about you and your company out into the world. It can accomplish everything from establishing you as a thought leader to handling delicate customer service issues. Most of all, it allows you to create relationships with individuals and business that can be of enormous use to you.

  1. First things first- Get the lay of the land: If you are new to Twitter, it is like being the new kid in the school. Twitter has its own culture, its own conventions. There is an entire language unique to Twitter. Fortunately, Twitter provides its own glossary. Take the time to see how people are communicating, especially your competition.
  2. Be strategic: Just because there are a lot of adolescents out there Tweeting mindlessly, it doesn't mean that Twitter can't be used as an important business tool. This means deciding on how you want your business to be perceived, what kinds of Tweets will best serve your business interests and what kinds of information your target audiences are likely to want and need.
  3. Figure out who to follow: Twitter is a fantastic place to learn. People are sharing all kinds of information. It is your job to figure out which people are sharing the kinds of information and insights that will help you and your business. A simple way to find these people is to search out discussions on subjects that matter to you. One added benefit to following people, many people will follow you simply because you are following them.
  4. Don't be afraid to engage the big boys (and girls): Twitter gives you direct access to individuals with a great deal of influence. Take advantage of that. Don't be afraid to tell someone you're a fan. It doesn't matter, people like to be appreciated. If all goes well, it starts a real conversation. If the conversation goes well, you can turn an influencer into an ally.
  5. Do not hand the keys to the car to your social media intern: Just because your social media intern has been Tweeting for years, it doesn't mean he/she has the business judgment to deliver your messages effectively and intelligently. Either manage the account yourself or put it in trusted hands.
  6. Employ Twitter dashboards: Dashboards like Hootsuite and TweetDeck allow you to monitor what is being said about you and your business, how much attention your Tweets are getting and also allow you to automatically schedule the delivery of your Tweets.
  7. Never post a 140 character Tweet: This is the equivalent of sucking all of the air out of the room. Tweets of 100-120 characters have the greatest levels of engagement and also allow for commenting and retweeting... exactly the kind of engagement you are trying to drive.
  8. Use the 80/20 rule: Only one out of five Tweets should be promotional. The other 80% should focus on relationship building. If there's an article you enjoyed, post it. If there's a Tweet you liked, Retweet, make it one of your favorites or even reply to it.
  9. Use Twitter to "Meet the Press": Journalists live on Twitter... thousands and thousands of them. They are always looking for great story ideas and great sources. Without being too heavy handed, make it clear that you are someone worth knowing and your business is worth talking about. Tools like Cision and MuckRack make it easy to find the journalists most likely to be interested in you and what you do.
  10. Do not Tweet when you are intoxicated (or even a little buzzed): This may seem obvious, but it's a point that needs to be made. Single Tweets have destroyed businesses and reputations.

Happy Tweeting!