Debbie Laskey, MBA

If you’re a marketer, you probably spend a great deal of your day checking Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. Depending on your industry, you may also spend time on YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, and any number of other peripheral sites. But did you know that Twitter can be your best friend in the social media milieu if you’re a brand marketer?

Here are the top five reasons why you need to be part of the Twitterverse:

[1] Keep up-to-date on marketing, branding, advertising, and social media news.

[2] Keep up-to-date on your specific industry news as well as competitors.

[3] Learn from experts in your industry – many tweet regular updates.

[4] Learn about and resolve customer issues/problems/complaints – in real time.

[5] Participate and host Twitter Chats.

Here is a list of ten Twitter chats that you may wish to participate in:

[1] #CXO: customer experience chat – takes place Monday 12noon ET/9am PT.

[2] #MMchat (Marketer Monday): takes place Monday 8pm ET/5pm PT.

[3] #CustServ (Chat): takes place Tuesday 9pm ET/6pm PT.

[4] #MktgActionChat: takes place last Tuesday of the month 9pm ET/6pm PT.

[5] #brandchat: takes place Wednesday 11am ET/8am PT.

[6] #smchat: Social Media – takes place Wednesday 1pm ET/10am PT.

[7] #MobileChat: takes place Wednesday 10pm ET/7pm PT.

[8] #HBRchat: Harvard Business Review – takes place Thursday 1pm ET/10am PT.

[9] #mediachat: takes place Thursday 10pm ET/7pm PT.

[10] #blogchat: takes place Sunday 8pm ET/5pm PT.

So, how should you spend your time on Twitter? Plan your time strategically:

[1] Develop a Twitter plan – include goals for engagement, a calendar for content, and a schedule for time commitments.

[2] Craft your brand’s and/or company’s official voice – depending on industry, this may be formal, informal, or conversational.

[3] Decide who will tweet on behalf of your company and use initials so that followers will know who is tweeting (the initials should clearly correspond to full names in the “About Section”).

[4] Engage your audience or followers – ask questions, offer coupons, use polls, etc. – and respond to each person individually if possible.

[5] Decide how you will handle customer complaints – and be consistent.

Above all, be true to your brand by being consistent. Don’t tweet content that you wouldn’t include in your annual report or share on your company’s blog or website. Remember, your Twitter account may be part of the social media landscape, but it’s just as much a reflection of your brand as any other piece of the marketing pie.

But because Twitter exists in real time, your reach can be, and is, immediate – which sets this tool apart from all of your other marketing efforts. Use this difference to your advantage.