Twitter is a "micro blogging" tool that allows users to post 140 character updates to their followers. I was brow beaten into starting to use it byJeanette Miller of LimelitePR in late 2009 and while I am no Ashton Kutcher, I have picked up a few tips along the way.
Twitter is not a game changer but it is a great way to connect with your customers and prospects and remind people that you are there in some subtle ways.
1) It's not all about you: Don't just tweet about the sales you are having, or the recent successes. Sure, you can announce new products and sales or a coupon code for your followers, but that shouldn't be all you do. It gets boring fast.
2) Share and share alike: In Twitterland you need to share. Help others learn and prosper and they will help you when the time comes. Re-tweet interesting post from people you follow, or post things only tangentially associated with your business.
3) Be Social: It is called "social" media after all. Being all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy so don't be scared to have a personality. Sure, no one expects The Gap to be their BFF, but let's face it, you are not The Gap so be social and reinforce your brand image (unless you want your brand to be cold and standoffish)
4) Monitor your brand: Twitter will alert you automatically if someone re-tweets your post, but you also need to run monitoring on your company name, URL, and other key aspects of your brand. If someone is happy, you can then retweet it. If someone is unhappy, you can help them before it gets blown out of proportion.
5) Track your results: Google Analytics will tell you who visited your site through Twitter and can even tell you who purchased. Hootsuite, one of many twitter tools will even tell you which links you post have been clicked the most.
6) Choose your words carefully: You only have 140 characters so use them wisely. People are monitoring terms that are important to them just like you are so if you want to be found on certain topics, use those words in your tweets. Google also indexes tweets so careful tweeting can boost your SEO.
7) Don't over do the hashtag: Adding "#" to a word is what is called a "hashtag". It provides a simple way for people to search for key words or topics. It is turned into a link in your tweet and anyone can click it to see all recent tweets with that hashtag. It is a great system, but too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
8) NEVER lose your temper: This loops back to item 6 but covers the darker side of twitter and other social media. There is a permanent record of what you said and it can be easily passed around.
9) Be gracious: Thank people for retweets, mentions, and moral support. It makes them like you more and that is a good thing.
I have to confess that I have several twitter accounts but use my personal account 99.99% of the time which is something I plan on changing in 2011. I have created a list of useful eCommerce tweeters at http://twitter.com/#!/list/idealever/ecomtips
and you can follow my personal account at http://twitter.com/idealever