Twitter etiquette for businesses

Swedish businesses are starting to explore Twitter with varying degree of success. SMS loan company Folkia recently launched its Twitter account and quickly added several hundred users to follow, something that was discussed on Jaiku. It also published only promotional information about their own services and a few days later the account got suspended.


The same strategy was used by Myspace Nordic which added some 2,000 people in a few days. This procedure is called “aggressive following” (a large number of people are followed in a short amount of time) and is one reason (update: new link) a Twitter account may get suspended.

With these incidents in mind, here’s 10 advice for businesses that are about to engage on Twitter (parts of this is also published in Dagens Industri today).

  • Be clear about who the sender is. Is this the official Twitter channel then make that clear. If you can specify who is doing the tweeting it will be easier to get a more personal relationship with the company and it will also set the right expectations.
  • Twitter is a great tool for listening to customers and for dialogue in general. Answer direct questions and comments that are directed to the company on Twitter.
  • Give your followers something of value for following you. Share your knowledge, both from your own company but also from other sources. Excessive linking to your own site might be considered spam.
  • Retweet good tips from others. It shows your are willing to give cred to others and that you are up to date on things within your line of work.
  • Use common sense. All information (apart from Direct Messages) are public so normal confidentiality rules still apply.
  • Respect the privacy of others. Just because you have heard that transparency is the new black, that doesn’t mean it is ok to tweet about colleagues without their approval.
  • Add other sources of information to your Twitter feed if you think they are of value to your followers. It might be press releases, Flick photos, YouTube videos or promotional offers. But be careful, a feed with just press releases is extremely boring.
  • Don’t ask for retweets, unless you are posting a question you want many to see. That’s something you deserv by posting interesting information.
  • Don’t start following hundreds of people at once. It is called aggressive following and is one reason your account may be suspended by Twitter. But adding a small number of interesting people may be a good way to start building your network.
  • Avoid ghost twittering if you can. You can support the person in many ways but in the end the words should be his/her own.

Here are some examples of Swedish businesses on Twitter (many taken from a list on Webbsverige).

Björn Borg
Scania Group
Skanska Group
Telia Sonera Services

Social media drives traffic to Electrolux

The Swedish based global kitchen appliance company Electrolux is more and more looking like the local leader when it comes to corporate use of social media. And maybe it can be the 800-pound gorilla that is needed to get more businesses to try out this space. The company has a social media news room, a presence in Second Life and is also present on Facebook via the Lunch Club application. In an interview on Resumé tv, Electrolux’s global Director of Communications Lars-Göran Johansson reveals that the company has a staff of 20 people that work with online projects, including social media.

Johansson describes how Electrolux has experimented with adding photos of the main office building on Google Earth. He also said that half of the members of the executive board are now members of Facebook. So, you might wonder, what are the results of these initiatives. Well, according to Johansson, 7 out of 10 customers search for information online before a purchase and one goal of many of these features is to drive traffic to the site. Last year the traffic increased by some 70-80% which must be considered a great achievement, although social media probably is not the only reason behind the success.

I recommend that you keep a close eye on Electrolux for further good examples on how corporates can embrace social media.

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