Twitter ye not?* The guide to corporate Twittering * With apologies to Frankie Howerd.

Should organisations Twitter or not? If so, why and how? We’re trying to find answers to questions like this. What’s the best business use of Twitter? Who’s using it in the most innovative way? Tweet us @glasshouse, leave a comment on our blog or email us.

What is Twitter? (We asked the blogo/twittersphere)

Microblogging

My tiny blog’ or ‘both blog and IM rolled in to an addictive communal ritual’ (via Chris Winfield); ‘a collection of microblogs where people post their minute-by-minute thoughts and actions’.

Instant messaging

IM on hyperdrive … interact with thousands’; ‘It’s coming to replace IM as the primary method of staying in touch over distance because of the passive, unobtrusive experience’.

WTF? LOL

‘Twitter is a mix of kind of cool, really? WTF? & insanely interesting’; ‘Even if Twitter is just a geek haven, it’s still very influential’. Remember what people said about blogging four years ago?

Why use Twitter?

Broadcast

The Twittersphere can be a whole new audience, some of whom might even buy things from you. Tell people what you’re up to, and use tools like Twitterfeed to automatically repost your blog or news feed to Twitter, broadening your reach. Some people don’t like this though.

Example: Jemima Kiss reposts her Guardian blog to her Twitterfeed, and Number 10 announces what Gordon Brown’s up to.

Converse

Twitter allows for dialogue — it’s a conversational medium at its heart. And because people can Twitter from the web and from their mobiles, anyone can join in a conversation wherever they are, instantly.

Example: Number 10 offers advice and clarifications, and James Karl Buck got himself out of jail in Egypt with a single tweet from his phone.

Gather feedback

Use Twitter Tracking or tools like Tweetscan or Summize to monitor mentions of your brand/product names. Use it as an informal research tool, a customer service channel, and make people happy (via Jackie Huba).

Example: Southwest Airlines found David Armano’s tweet about his experience with their check-in machines and were able to respond.

Three Twitter rules (BTW, you can get started here)

Be honest

PR-speak doesn’t work on Twitter. You can say you care, but unless you actually do, people will notice. Also, make sure that it’s clear whether you’re a person or a company.

Be responsive and human

Twitter’s all about the conversation. Join in — and master the art of @replies before people make fun of you. Don’t act like a robot, either.

Be nice

Twitter spam was pretty much unheard of until a month or two ago, but since then there’s been a tiny but perceptible influx. Make sure that you play nice and don’t give people the wrong impression.

Brought to you by Glasshouse Partnership — and we’re on Twitter, too.