50 ideas on using twitter for business

I’m still unsure about Twitter.

I think the ‘I’m having a cup of tea’ style postings are a fad – as fashion that will go away… but I can see how it has potential for a lot of multiple niche applications… so I thought I’d just post a few ideas.

Example 1 – You are a politician with a lot of followers who want to know your thoughts on current news, a politician who has a lot of followers who want to know what you are doing so they can cover you in their newspaper .. and for politician substitute anyone in the media – pop stat, guru, famous for being famous person etc – anyone who has fans or fan like followers.

Example 2 – You are a retail operation that has something to sell by special offer. You have followers who previously subscribed to your email newsletter or who looked at your door drop or your direct mail and who are interested in buying what you have a deal on that day.

Example 3 – You are someone who wants to share web links that they find interesting / useful AND you have followers who trust your judgement. A bit like blogging, but instead of sharing your own ideas, you’re simply sharing your view of what is useful/interesting amongst the mass of stuff out there. Or actually you could simply be sharing your own snippets of wisdom. If people value your view, they may follow up.

Example 4 – You are a sales director who wants to communicate with a national sales team daily with updates, tips, stats etc. For example Come on – we’re at 99.3% of target; we just need another £10k and everyone will get a trip to the Seychelles. Whether you agree with the sales approach I hope you’ll get the idea!

And following the principle of sharing useful tips I come across, I attach below an article by Chris Brogan that I found thought provoking. The original is available from his site here.


We really can’t deny the fact that businesses are testing out Twitter as part of their steps into the social media landscape. You can say it’s a stupid application, that no business gets done there, but there are too many of us (including me) that can disagree and point out business value. I’m not going to address the naysayers much with this. Instead, I’m going to offer 50 thoughts for people looking to use Twitter for business. And by “business,” I mean anything from a solo act to a huge enterprise customer.

Your mileage may vary, and that’s okay. Further, you might have some really great ideas to add. That’s why we have lively conversations here at [chrisbrogan.com] in the comments section. Jump right in!

First Steps

  1. Build an account and immediate start using Twitter Search to listen for your name, your competitor’s names, words that relate to your space. (Listening always comes first.)
  2. Add a picture. (Shel reminds us of this.) We want to see you.
  3. Talk to people about THEIR interests, too. I know this doesn’t sell more widgets, but it shows us you’re human.
  4. Point out interesting things in your space, not just about you.
  5. Share links to neat things in your community. (@wholefoods does this well).
  6. Don’t get stuck in the apology loop. Be helpful instead. (@jetblue gives travel tips).
  7. Be wary of always pimping your stuff. Your fans will love it. Others will tune out.
  8. Promote your employees’ outside-of-work stories. (@TheHomeDepot does it well).
  9. Throw in a few humans, like RichardAtDELL, LionelAtDELL, etc.
  10. Talk about non-business, too, like @astrout and @jstorerj from Mzinga.

Ideas About WHAT to Tweet

  1. Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?”, answer the question, “What has your attention?”
  2. Have more than one twitterer at the company. People can quit. People take vacations. It’s nice to have a variety.
  3. When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.
  4. Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.
  5. Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who she follows, and follow her.
  6. Tweet about other people’s stuff. Again, doesn’t directly impact your business, but makes us feel like you’re not “that guy.”
  7. When you DO talk about your stuff, make it useful. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.
  8. Share the human side of your company. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has value for human connections. Point us to pictures and other human things.
  9. Don’t toot your own horn too much. (Man, I can’t believe I’m saying this. I do it all the time. – Side note: I’ve gotta stop tooting my own horn).
  10. Or, if you do, try to balance it out by promoting the heck out of others, too.

Some Sanity For You

  1. You don’t have to read every tweet.
  2. You don’t have to reply to every @ tweet directed to you (try to reply to some, but don’t feel guilty).
  3. Use direct messages for 1-to-1 conversations if you feel there’s no value to Twitter at large to hear the conversation ( got this from@pistachio).
  4. Use services like Twitter Search to make sure you see if someone’s talking about you. Try to participate where it makes sense.
  5. 3rd party clients like Tweetdeck make it a lot easier to manage Twitter.
  6. If you tweet all day while your co-workers are busy, you’re going to hear about it.
  7. If you’re representing clients and billing hours, and tweeting all the time, you might hear about it.
  8. Learn quickly to use the URL shortening tools like TinyURL and all the variants. It helps tidy up your tweets.
  9. If someone says you’re using twitter wrong, forget it. It’s an opt out society. They can unfollow if they don’t like how you use it.
  10. Commenting on others’ tweets, and retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.

The Negatives People Will Throw At You

  1. Twitter takes up time.
  2. Twitter takes you away from other productive work.
  3. Without a strategy, it’s just typing.
  4. There are other ways to do this.
  5. As Frank hears often, Twitter doesn’t replace customer service (Frank is @comcastcares and is a superhero for what he’s started.)
  6. Twitter is buggy and not enterprise-ready.
  7. Twitter is just for technonerds.
  8. Twitter’s only a few million people. (only)
  9. Twitter doesn’t replace direct email marketing.
  10. Twitter opens the company up to more criticism and griping.

Some Positives to Throw Back

  1. Twitter helps one organize great, instant meetups (tweetups).
  2. Twitter works swell as an opinion poll.
  3. Twitter can help direct people’s attention to good things.
  4. Twitter at events helps people build an instant “backchannel.”
  5. Twitter breaks news faster than other sources, often (especially if the news impacts online denizens).
  6. Twitter gives businesses a glimpse at what status messaging can do for an organization. Remember presence in the 1990s?
  7. Twitter brings great minds together, and gives you daily opportunities to learn (if you look for it, and/or if you follow the right folks).
  8. Twitter gives your critics a forum, but that means you can study them.
  9. Twitter helps with business development, if your prospects are online (mine are).
  10. Twitter can augment customer service. (but see above)

Bob Bradley

Bob is a specialist in running high value added service businesses, having run five such businesses as General Manager, Managing Director or Chief Executive. His last employed role was as Chief Executive of a £16M, 200 person family owned business having previously been Chief Executive of an AIM listed company for which he raised £5M funding and which he grew from £4M to £12M in three years through two acquisitions and organic growth, and a corporate PLC subsidiary where he was Managing Director responsible for delivering £10M profit on £45M turnover through 450 staff.

Bob is now following a portfolio career providing entrepreneurial business leaders with mentoring and coaching around business leadership, business growth, merger integration and exit planning.

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