Gartner has predicted that business micro-blogging will be a standard feature of 80 per cent of social software platforms on the market within the next two years, and the rising popularity of Twitter has prompted many users to ask for advice on how to put the service to business use.
Firstly, Gartner urged companies to be wary of using Twitter as a type of corporate blog, where they promote accomplishments, push out press releases and use the service to respond to comments about their brands.
The report praised companies for registering their brand names on Twitter because it prevents others claiming them and using them inappropriately, but warned that organisations should only start using the account if they are fully aware how to manage the posts.
"Uninteresting or self-serving 'tweets' could hinder the brand image as much as it could help," said the Gartner report. "Responding to comments can be particularly risky, as the anonymous nature of Twitter can easily descend into a negative spiral."
Gartner also pointed to cases where individual employees use Twitter to enhance their own reputation by posting interesting comments or links, which then enhances the status of their employer. Gartner recommended the approach to companies that want to be seen to employ "influential leaders".
However, the analyst firm warned employees not to use the platform to blog about what they are doing, the projects they are working on, or particular ideas they have, because this could "tip off" competitors.
Finally, Gartner advised organisations to use Twitter to tap into the views of customers and competitors by using Twitter Search or third-party applications such as Twhirl or Twitterfall, and to define a public web participation policy if they have not already done so.
Meanwhile, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has outlined what the company considers to be the key characteristics of successful Twitter users.
In a blog post designed to offer more transparency into the process by which Twitter creates its Suggested User list, Stone said that ideal Twitter accounts have the profile filled out, post interesting information and have a mainstream appeal.
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