Over the past few months companies are joining Twitter or consulting advisors about joining Twitter in droves. If you haven’t heard of Twitter, it is a micro-blogging tool that lets you share publicly what you are doing. It’s similar to the status updates on Facebook and instant messaging, but unlike either, is generally available to the world to see, whether or not they have a Twitter account or you are following them.
A great tool for enabling more company transparency, companies are helping boost their bottom lines by using it is as a public forum to interact with customers, share exciting news about the company and create relationships for business development. Anyone from journalists and bloggers to CEOs of major companies are using it for business purposes. The classic examples of major companies using Twitter successfully are Dell, JetBlue and Zappos.
What about cleantech companies?
Here are ten tips that I along with fellow Twestival Jerusalem co-organizers and Social Media consultants, Charlie Kalech (@CharlieKalech) and Debra Askanase (@askdebra) suggest for companies to consider when planning their Twitter strategy and for ensuring maximizing its use.
1. Make a plan. Know what you want to accomplish (do you want to find customers? Raise awareness? Or connect to investor and analysts? Or something else?), and based on that determine what type of presence you want to have on Twitter. This includes whether you want your account to be under your own name (like Alltop’s @guykawasaki) or the brand name (like @mashable) or both.
2. Use Twhirl and TweetDeck. Twitter has an open API that has encouraged a slew of third-party applications. Two of them, Twhirl and TweetDeck are dynamic desktop clients that are considered to have the best interface for companies and to easily use for brand or topic monitoring and for keeping track of multiple conversations (though not multiple accounts yet). Use either for of them to keep better track of your posts (called tweets), people you follow tweets, tweets from others about your company and more.
3. Use search tools. You can find relevant people to follow [like Al Gore or David Suzuki] or be found by them by using tools such as Mr. Tweet (for information on your twitter statistics and recommendations of thought leaders to follow), Just Tweet It, (a search directory) and Twellow (also a search directory).
4. Become a thought leader with your tweets. Step into your expertise space [solar energy, carbon offsetting?] with knowledgeable tweets about clean tech and your specific industry from the latest news, blogs or conversations.
5. Be Human. Build relationships with key decision makers and others by not just including important information about your company but by also showing your human side by tweeting about things such as that you’re waiting at the gate for a flight somewhere, or have to pick up the kids or that you’re making dinner.
6. Gather and share information. Adding to the previous tip, much success in social media comes from becoming a resource and giving value to the community. In the case of your company and the industry, most of your tweets should include links to cleantech topics, industry news you hear, resources you discover and people you find interesting in cleantech. Don’t be afraid to retweet other tweets you found valuable, but always give people credit by starting the tweet with [email protected]____:
7. Respond to and retweet others comments. Taking the importance of retweeting further, responding to others’ tweets and retweeting them shows those people as well as others that you are listening and are actively interested in what they have to say.
8. Shorten links using tools such as TinyURL and bit.ly. Shortening links will give you more room to tweet and tools such as bit.ly also give you the ability to track the amount of hits the link gets, from where, and other Twitter mentions. These tools are built into third-party applications such as, Twhirl or Tweetdeck, or can be accessed on their own websites (i.e, http://bit.ly/).
9. Make your username as short as possible. Limiting it to the name of the company is good. The shorter it is, the easier it will be for people to remember it. It also makes it easier for others to retweet your information.
10. Include photos. Personal photos or photos of business activities, such as company meetings, can help make your company more real to your followers and enable them to understand it better. You can upload pictures and tweet about them using TwitPic.com or again, Twhirl, TweetDeck and other third-party applications.
This Green Prophet guest post is written by Lisa Damast, a co-organizer of the Jerusalem Twestival, which this year raised money for charity: water.