Twitter at its simplest form is an electronic bulletin board with 140 characters of information that you may or may not be interested in. You can follow people or companies; you can add a hashtag (#) and start a trending topic on twitter that others will join into and add the # to it.  This allows for people to search for all tweets that have that #.  Like all social media platforms it requires the usual pre-work.

You need to:

  • Have a plan – where do you want twitter to take you and your company
  • Monitoring – you have to listen and respond to the tweets that are being put out involving not only your company but your industry and employees. A bad tweet concerning a high ranking executive can affect the bottom line
  • Be ready to change – you may start by sharing information about your company and then depending on where your customers want to go you could be directing traffic to your wiki, blogs or experts in your industry. This helps to support the groundswell as discussed in a previous blog

Why twitter works is a pretty simple question to answer. It is free, quick to set up, and easy to use! This is what I like to call the trifecta of groundswell excellency.  It can be used from a computer, tablet or smart phone.  One of the best parts about twitter is that really smart people like to use it and share their knowledge with the twittersphere.   This means there may be someone out there already sharing valuable information about your company or products for free and you can benefit from it.

Use twitter to listen to your customers. Connect with them 140 characters at a time.  You can connect them to: other people, help, advice and information with a simple retweet or link.  A simple tweet can direct them to your other existing social media sites; like blogs, forums and Q&A.

A great example of smart corporate tweeting is WestJet’s April Fool’s Day joke on rebranding. It was entertaining, witty, and followed a corporate tradition of contributing to this day.  They used a #mostcanadian and garnered 660 retweets, 215 comments and 935 likes.  This lead to follow up tweets advertising their flight sales all for pennies compared to big budget advertising through TV and print ads.


Bernoff, J., & Li, C. (2011). groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.