Some things you should know about Twitter

For those thinking about using Twitter for their company or brand or product (not just themselves as a person), here are a few things you should know, and that could help with the internal sell. This a good reference too, from Hubspot, makers of the Twitter Grader.

1) Twitter is a great place to showcase third-party references and highlight the comments of your advocates. Detractors will always find you, but with transparency and honesty, your advocates will always win. The best way to showcase your supporters, or those people who have said something nice about you, is with favorites. In the right-nav, Twitter has favorites which are basically just tweets from other people that you have selected to save and store for later. I just went to the Starbucks official Twitter page @starbucks and they have a single favorite, and its random. They are not maximizing the usefulness of this feature from a corporate brand perspective. This like a pre-made testimonial zone.

2) Real world events and themes that you want to translate to the web have never been easier thanks to Hashtags. A hash (#) followed immediately by a word or combination of letters makes up a hashtag, and they are used to easy aggregate conversations when searching Twitter. For example, those attendees at the Meeting Tech Online Summit in 2008 used the hashtag #mtosummit and subsequently, those who were tracking the conversation knew that these tweets were related. It works just as well for a brand launching a product. Imagine aggregating all the conversations about the #newcoke launch back in the 80's? Coca-Cola would have known instantly that they made a poor decision. Maybe that's not such a great example... You can find hashtags at or have your tag indexed by following @hashtags

3) Measurement and analytics are important in any online environment, however things are little different in the Twittersphere. Followers is a number that represents the number of people following your tweets, as a raw measurement of distribution. It doesn't measure the quality of this number, or the influence of these followers. The example I used a few days ago with a colleague was having 50,000 spammers following me is not as effective as having 100 of the top bloggers in our field following me. Quality over quantity. There's an easy way to measure this, and that's using Hubspot's Twitter Grader. This measures who's following you, and who follows them, and how often they tweet, and what kind of engagement they have. So how do you measure engagement? It's a little fuzzy, but looking at the number of @replies a user has can be used to determine just how involved in their community they really are.

4) The question for brands may come up early on surrounding whether the Twitter account should be a) BRAND - by Person b) person from BRAND or c) BRAND (on duty today: person). It's been almost unanimously agreed already that companies should not simply put themselves out there as an inanimate object BRAND with no reference to a person or human face at all. Twitter is a community, not a broadcast vehicle (though this could be disputed) and experts agree that making the communication as human and direct as possible is what will succeed. This is not the radio people!