21 Smart Ways to Use Twitter

Everyone from global corporations to universities and non-profits to consultants and entrepreneurs are using Twitter to reach their target audiences, albeit some more effectively than others. Whatever your business goals, however, tweeting about what you ate for breakfast or the cute thing your dog did this morning, won't likely help you achieve them.

But used effectively, Twitter can help you create brand loyalty, communicate important information, boost sales, establish yourself as an expert, attract people to your cause and much more.

If you're stuck about what to tweet, here are 21 ways to help you get started:

1.) Recycle your "traditional" media coverage. Tweet a link to an online copy of the article or excerpt tips from the coverage to share with your followers.

2.) Share exclusive coupon codes or alert followers to a Twitter-exclusive discount page. Bonus: You'll be able to track the number of sales coming from Twitter to gauge your success.

3.) Invite your followers to join in a conversation at your own blog or at someone else's blog where you've posted a comment.

4.) Track comments about your company's products to spot trends. Recurring complaints will give you a leg up in fixing design flaws, while accolades will provide insight you can mold into competitive differentiators for use marketing materials.

5.) Highlight a recent white paper, study or research report. Encourage users to use a hashtag so you can follow the discussion and answer questions or provide commentary when appropriate.

6.) Respond quickly to misleading or false rumors about your organization.

7.) Promote a new marketing video posted to YouTube.

8.) Reinforce your brand by providing a complete, engaging and fun Twitter profile (bio, location, customized profile page design). Need ideas? Look at what others are doing and see what appeals to you.

9.) Follow your target reporters to see what they are tweeting about. Use the additional insight to craft stronger PR pitches.

10.) Build excitement leading up to a big news announcement or press release by tweeting teaser messages. (Conference planners can provide updates on additions the speaker line-up. Authors can alert fans to book signings. New restaurants can keep potential customers up-to-date on menu decisions. New stores can tweet about grand opening specials.)

11.) Showcase your expertise by posting a tip of the day or week.

12.) Publish a micro-case study over a day, week or month. Doctors are tweeting through surgeries. Consulting firms could tweet about progress on a big project, lessons learned and best practices. Product companies can show how their new widget is helping solve a business problem.

13.) Recruit new employees by posting links to job opportunities.

14.) Embrace open innovation by inviting followers to provide feedback, suggestions or ideas for improvement for your products or services.

15.) Keep followers informed during a crisis. Cities, states, emergency responders, hospitals, universities, utilities and others can provide real-time updates on closures, safety instructions, openings and closings, repair status, and other safety-related measures.

16.) Establish yourself as an expert source by posting links to relevant news articles, books, videos, etc., or by retweeting information that's related to your space and that your followers will find useful.

17.) Connect with key stakeholders (target reporters, big clients, potential business partners, etc.) at industry events. Post tweets to let others know where you'll be and what type of connections you're interested in making.

18.) Build relationships by commenting or responding to what others post and by connecting with them "off Twitter" via their blog, website or other medium.

19.) Get creative. Marie Claire magazine recently had a columnist post throughout a blind date. HARO publisher Peter Shankman runs trivia contests for free gifts.

20.) Take questions and provide answers during a press conference or audio seminar.

21.) Gather market research. Post a link to a short survey to gain feedback you can use to develop a marketing or communications strategy, identify a market need, select a product or brand name, settle on a theme for an event or even test market a new website.

Bonus Tip: AdWeek Magazine has published a list of the top 50 people in the marketing, media and agency world who are worth following on Twitter. You can see their top 50 picks here: http://adweek.blogs.com/tweetfreak/2009/06/50-to-follow-our-first-10-weeks-of-picks.html

Reprinted from The Corporate Communicator, a free e-zine dedicated to helping professionals communicate more effectively with employees, customers and the media. To get the latest industry news, research and best practices at your fingertips, register for a FREE subscription at http://www.thecorporatecommunicator.biz

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