Using Twitter for Business

A few months ago I did a short post on this blog about the research study on the enterprise use of social media for external collaboration that we are currently running. While the study in still in progress and I cannot report any of the detailed findings, one thing is pretty clear – the number of businesses that have started experimenting with social media, and Twitter in particular, continues to grow; yet for most this very much remains a trial and error process.

On numerous occasions, both during the study interviews and in my teaching, I’ve been asked questions about how firms should go about using Twitter for business purposes (Twitter just happened to be the hottest social media platform of the year). And so, in this post I decided to pull together various resources concerning this very issue. In the future, as I come across more useful links I will add them to this list. Also, once our research is complete, I will add insights from the study as well.

  • Let’s start with the official guide. On July 23rd, Twitter for the first time launched a Twitter 101 Guide for business. The guide provides a quick overview of how to get started on Twitter along with a list of best business practices and a few case studies.
  • The Twitter Guide Book by Mashable – Mashable provides a collection of blog posts (many of which are accompanied by helpful follow-up comments) on a wide range of topics related to the use of Twitter. The posts are organized by categories, such as Getting Started on Twitter, Twitter for Business, Building your Twitter Community etc., which makes them easy to navigate. The book is now also available for download.
  • Web Clients for Twitter – Orli Yakuel, a guest author at TechCrunch, breaks down the pros and cons of various web interfaces for accessing Twitter. Since using the service for business purposes often requires additional features on top of those of the native Twitter interface (such as, multi-account support, retweets, channels etc.), Orli’s analysis will come in handy when choosing a client that fits your company’s needs best.
  • 4 Ways Brands are Earning – and Buying – Followers on Twitter – Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester takes a stab at the one-million question of any business getting started on Twitter – how to attract and retain followers. The four strategies identified in the post may strike you as somewhat obvious. But they do a good job at capturing the range of practices that currently existing on Twitter and provide a good starting point for devising your own approach. Once again, pay attention to the follow up comments – these are often as insightful as the blog post itself.
  • Types of Twitter Profiles – in another recent post, Jeremiah Owyang classifies different types of twitter profiles with respect to their focus on personal or corporate representation. Again, this is a common dilemma for businesses as the use of Twitter, as well as other social media platforms, often blurs the boundary between personal and corporate. Brands, Jeremiah suggests, should employ a combination of different Twitter profiles and provide internal coordination to ensure complete high-quality user experience.
  • One last idea – during the study we’ve seen several examples where firms, usually smaller ones, encourage personal use of Twitter by employees in order to develop first-hand experience with the platform. Seems like a good idea to me.


About Evgeny Kaganer

Evgeny Kaganer is an Associate Professor at IESE Business School where he teaches MBA and executive courses in digital business, IT strategy, and virtual enterprise. His research focuses on social and mobile technologies and their impact on individuals, organizations, and business models. His recent work traces the evolution of crowdsourcing and its growing impact on business.