Twitter has become hugely popular in recent years and is changing the way businesses communicate with their customers.  It’s no longer just building great websites, blogs, or landing pages for your PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns. It’s about building networks and connecting with people that have similar interests.  However integrating this social media platform into your marketing mix can be tricky and difficult to measure. If you don’t approach social media in the right way you risk damaging your reputation and your business.

So what exactly is Twitter?

Twitter.com is a micro-blogging services that allows users to exchange opinions, ideas, news, and grievances in a concise but limited capacity. Twitter allows users to track friends, businesses, media outlets, and delivers messages (tweets) in 140 characters or less. So how can your organization make the best of using twitter? We recommend following these basic rules of engagement.

Twitter: Best Practices for Business:

  1. Share. Share photos and behind the scenes info about your business. Even better, give a glimpse of developing projects and events. Users come to Twitter to get and share the latest, so give it to them!
  2. Listen. Regularly monitor the comments about your company, brand, and products.
  3. Ask. Ask questions of your followers to glean valuable insights and show that you are listening.
  4. Respond. Respond to compliments and feedback in real time
  5. Reward. Tweet updates about special offers, discounts and time-sensitive deals.
  6. Demonstrate wider leadership and know-how. Reference articles and links about the bigger picture as it relates to your business.
  7. Champion your stakeholders. Retweet and reply publicly to great tweets posted by your followers and customers.
  8. Establish the right voice. Twitter users tend to prefer a direct, genuine, and of course, a likable tone from your business, but think about your voice as you Tweet. How do you want your business to appear to the Twitter community?

Pros: Free, User-friendly interface, Easily Integrated into Email Campaigns and Websites.

Cons:  Downtime (twitter is known for intermittent connection errors), No reliable way to measure ROI, Limited to 140 Characters, Smaller Reach than other social media platforms. No control over user posts (One bad post can ruin your reputation and effect future business relationships)

In many ways Social Media has transformed how businesses traditionally communicate with customers. It’s not a one-way street any longer and managing the chaos calls for a variety of unique skillsets and technical knowledge to successfully set up a long-term social strategy.

Source: http://business.twitter.com/basics/best-practices/