Brands, companies and organizations are invading Twitter at a steady clip. Social media gurus will tell you that Twitter can be a remarkably powerful customer relations, marketing and relationship-building tool. Yes, it can be - but only when used properly.
- Everyone starts out with zero followers. Don't freak out and follow hundreds of people in a knee-jerk reaction to "force" follow-backs. Chances are someone introduced you to Twitter. Politely ask that user for an introduction to the Twitter community - they will tweet something like "Please welcome @username to Twitter!" That should get you going.
- Maintain a balanced follower/following ratio. If you're following 2,473 Twitter users, but only 16 are following back, you're going to look like a Twitter spammer.
- Upload a photo (avatar) and fill out your profile. Simple stuff, right? Showing your face means to users that there is a human behind the scenes and they'll feel more inclined to connect with your company. Put your location (city, state) in your profile, making you more likely to be found. A link to your company site or blog is almost a *must* - one of many tips outlined by Jeremiah Owyang on how to confirm your corporate Twitter account.
- Maintain a 50/50 promo/convo ratio. For every time you send a tweet promoting something that your company has done (driving traffic back to your corporate site/blog) go out and proactively join a conversation taking place on Twitter. Remember, this is a conversation utility first and foremost.
- Participate. You get out of Twitter what you put into it - enough said.
- Use URL shorteners. Twitter isn't a pipe to shove long, unruly URLs into. Make use of URL shorteners like TinyURL, bit.ly and is.gd. Remember - you've only got 140 characters!
- Sponsor a TweetUp. Once you've got a few months under your belt, and you're well immersed in your local Twitter community - have your company sponsor a tweetup (meetup for Twitter users). This will establish goodwill towards you and your brand.