Interesting topic was being discussed at Jeremiah’s blog (Forrester’s Web Strategist) today about what B2B brands are discussing about using twitter. Though I’ve already found some answere here & here but I feel that taking Indian angle would be slightly different since the critical mass for agencies to pitch in would be different and also company wide acceptance would be bit skeptical.

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Though my present experience is with B2B company and I’ve been evangelizing the medium and tools for quite sometime, so here I would present my case with my point of views.

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So here are my answers to 7 questions that are being asked:

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1. Should we create multiple accounts for different divisions? How should we name them?  How should the content be different?

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Answer: As rightly mentioned, context is the keyword here. For  me, I think if a company has different lines of businesses like my employer has it makes more sense to have different twitter handles, each representing the line of business. But also we have to remember that the corporate identity in terms of core values is not lost in the process since that can only breed miscommunication and hamper the corporate image on a longer run. In terms of naming twitter handles, it should be as formal as possible.

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2. Is it ok to just tweet out news on our main corporate account? Or should we be conversational?

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Answer: I’ll take this in two parts – one when the account is opened and second when the account has gained much followers. But conversational tone of tweeting should always be on the top of the mind since that’s why people follow back and want to know more about the company which was not possible in previous mediums. The initial tweets can be a mix of both corporate news and products info based tweets which should give way to holistic conversational tweeting since this will attract mass followings as well as a good corporate image amongst followers. On the hindsight, this should be done keeping the walled-garden approach away and backed by other service providers like customers services etc otherwise the whole strategy will fall flat on the face.

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3. How do we get our corporate reps (sales, product teams) to use this tool, and be conversational?

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Answer: This is most important criteria for any company to understand and leverage the social tools that modern system present us. Unless the corporate reps have used to tools themselves, I don’t think much good will happen. Set them up before they continue with the corporate twitter handle since their every tweet will be the face of the company. Also a top-down management approach should be executed wherein most of the top guys should start using social tools to understand more about the medium. This is will enable everyone jointly come in one common platform and share ideas and insights.

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4. Should we follow folks? If so, what’s the protocol? Should we only follow folks that follow us? We don’t want to appear like ‘big brother’

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Answer: Now this is the question that many twitterers have asked me as well as company reps. My take would be that the value lies more on connecting rather than being obsure. From company perspective, it should try connecting first with people and then try to drive the conversation. First principle of connecting shouldn’t be to SELL. Provide some value to the followers – that can be through providing company/product info. But don’t only restrict to own company; also provide industry info, competition info etc.

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5. What are the tools to use to manage multiple authors/tweeters?

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Answer: There are large number of tools available – starting from Web based to desktop based applications. Nowadays, mobile based apps are also running in tandem. Utilize the tool which provides usability and mobility. Here are few examples that can come in handy [1] and [2].

6. How can we find other examples of B2B twitter examples?

Answer: The best way to is head over this wiki page where crowdsourcing has made it possible to list most of the companies using social media or twitter has been put up – courtesy Peter Kim. Also there are other examples across the web at Mashable too. Though Indian companies are still behind using twitter as such (more so for B2B companies) but there are certain examples for sure. Head over to Santosh Maharshi’s blog where he has listed some 70 odd Indian companies using twitter for the kick-off.

7. How should we brand our Twitter backgrounds images?

Answer: I consider this to be really important since a picture is worth a thousand words. Now the background image should be sutble surrounding the corporate logo and colors and the much importance should be stressed upon 160 character bio since a user first notices that if the profile is worth following or not. For example, check Fly Kinsfisher’s Twitter Page.

So these are my answers to 7 questions that brands are asking about Twitter. Personally, I think there are many more questions that circumspheres the twitter usage for corporates but keep the twitter usage protocol as simple as possible and try to understand medium as much as possible.