1. Creating Your Account
The single most important thing you can do when creating your Twitter account is to make sure you use the right email address. Think about how the Twitter signup process works – it allows new users to import email contacts from Gmail, Hotmail, & Outlook.
Using your company’s main contact address (the one where you send e-commerce confirmations or newsletters from) will automatically mean all your customers will be able to follow you when they register an account. If your company has 100,000 past customers email addresses and 5% of them sign up to Twitter you get 5,000 followers without even trying.
It’s important to register your real company name as the account. Don’t worry if it’s taken by somebody else because Twitter will normally reassign it to the rightful owner.
2. Adding Your Customer Database
During the signup process (or afterwards if you like) Twitter allows you to import your contacts from popular webmail services such as Gmail. If your contacts are on Twitter you can follow them and because you have an existing business relationship they will probably follow you back.
First of all you need to export your customer database as a CSV file (this might be best broken down into smaller chunks if you have lots of customers). Next, import the contacts into a webmail program such as Gmail/Googlemail, and once this is done you can import the contacts into Twitter and start building your followers.
3. Building Your Followers
The key principle behind Twitter is that some users will follow anybody who is kind enough to follow them while others just follow a handful of people. If you want to gain 50,000 followers then the easiest way is to just follow 50,000 people who are likely to follow you back.
Try searching for keywords related to your brand and following people who talk about your industry if you want to get really targeted.
4. Monitoring Your Reputation
Twitter reputation monitoring is quite easy thanks to a service called Twilert. Think of this as a kind of Google Alerts for Twitter – enter some keywords and URLs related to your company and Twilert will send you an email whenever somebody talks about you.
5. What You Should Say
Figuring out what to actually say is the hardest part of using Twitter. The first thing we recommend is to use TwitterFeed.com to automatically broadcast any blog posts you publish to Twitter – great if you have a blog or news site with an RSS feed.
Other options include tweeting job openings or special offers – try offering amazing product discounts & see if you can get some viral campaigns going. If your first tweets don’t go down well just keep following the conversation and trying new things.