So you're one of the million people Tweeting every day about the world around you to your buddies. But if you've been wondering just how companies are buying into Twitter for business use then IT research giant Gartner's latest report can help shed some light - according to it some smart companies out there are both Tweeting and listening, while others are just listening or just Tweeting. What rules should companies keep in mind before they jump on the Twitter bandwagon? According to Jeffrey Mann, research vice president at Gartner it's important to remember that Twitter is a public forum and organizations need to accordingly define a public Web participation policy.
Gartner's research zeroes in on the four different ways that companies are using Twitter today - inbound signaling, internal, indirect and direct.
This is a way for companies to listen in to conversations about the company, its brands or about the industry. Search tools like search.twitter.com or desktop apps like TweetDeck can help companies to keep track by either tuning into warnings on potential problems or by monitoring product and idea chatter. Microsoft's PR agency has recently released Twendz, their Twitter trend tracking service, and this doesn't just perform basic Twitter searches, it also tracks sentiment.
Companies can use Twitter to share ideas or establish communication on upcoming projects internally. However, Gartner warns that there is no guarantee of security, so if the information being shared is confidential, it's best to avoid using Twitter or any other microblogging service. For companies that do want to make use of this, there are tools like Yammer and present.ly available for a Twitter-like platform at the office.
Other companies use Twitter through their employees, by letting them Tweet positive messages about their workplace, the projects they're working on, or about the industry itself. This can, in turn, generate a beneficial image about the company. Having employees Tweet also helps the company to be viewed as one that employs bright, smart talent that has an influential voice in Twitterspace.
Twitter can also work as an extension of a company's PR and marketing channel. This is done by posting updates on corporate achievements or by distributing links that hook up to corporate websites, press releases and the like. However it pays to ensure a sense of balance while doing this, as Gartner says that a flood of self-congratulatory, self-promotional tweets can start to annoy the Twitter crowd who are discriminating and appreciate the personal touch. Ford, Starbucks and Dell are companies that seem to have gotten the hang of just how to do this.
The upshot is that if your company is thinking of joining the Twitter brigade, it's best to think it through and come up with a well planned blueprint that serves the company, its employees and customers in equal measure.
Content resourced / paraphrased from: http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=920813