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How Should B2B Companies Handle Twitter "Handles"?

If you’re a B2B marcom pro considering extending your social presence to the Twittersphere, you need to think about how to set up your Twitter handles—the @name—to avoid future issues. I advise clients against using colleague names for two reasons. One, you need to consider what happens to that person’s handle when they leave the company and use their personal name to continue tweeting; and two, the handle offers a branding opportunity for the company.

Consider the following when setting up your Twitter handle:

Remember that social media is about people and not brands or companies, try to work the person’s name into the Twitter handle when it’s not awkward to do so, i.e., @companymike or @mikeatcompany

Some associates may prefer to keep their personal names for their personal Twitter use. It’s better to allow them to separate their personal Twitter profiles from your company profile. If you allow associates to post on the company’s behalf using their personal Twitter profiles, then your social media policy should instruct associates to include a disclaimer in their Twitter profiles. i.e., “I am [an employee of] [a Contingent Worker for] Company Name. The statements or opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Company Name.” I like@anetah‘s disclaimer: “(btw: thoughts expressed here are solely mine)” @anetah is the social media strategist for Pitney Bowes (see below).

If you plan to extend Twitter activity beyond marketing and PR, then you may wish to have a handle that describes the functional area represented, such as @companytechsupport or @techsupportcompany. This method allows you the most flexibility should someone leave the company. However, you may also add a person’s name. Such as @companytechsupportmike or @mikeatcompanytechsupport. The downside is that at 25 characters, nearly 20% of your 140 characters is taken up by your handle. This is o.k. if you can offer simple answers or if you can redirect customers to a help file or other resource that will solve their problem in 140 characters or less.

Channel partners’ Twitter handles can also provide B2B companies with extended branding opportunities. If your channel partners represent multiple lines and prefer to use their own brand, then at least have them add your company name in their Twitter profiles.

When it comes to images, my personal preference is to see a person; after all, social media is about people. However, when people are tweeting on behalf of a company or brand, it can be effective to use the company logo to help customers better identify with the brand. A good experience in the Twittersphere, can support and even elevate brand image.

Finally, if you have a number of people tweeting on behalf of your company, leverage the Twitter profile to describe the role of each Twitter account. Use keywords too. It’s another opportunity to brand your company and associate it with keywords on which your company wants to rank.

Here are examples of how several B2B companies handle Twitter handles:

Dell uses its logo, but it also leverages the profile to promote other handles. i.e., the @Dell handle represents the official Dell communications team; however, their profile lets you know the handles for Dell support and Direct2Dell.

Indium Corporation @IndiumCorp is operated by Rick Short, who also has his own personal handle, @rickshort21, that he uses for his music business.

B2B agency, MLT Creative, @MLTCreative, uses its company logo; and the company’s associates tweet using their first and last names as a Twitter handle. In the Twitter profile, each associate includes the company name and his or her role in the company. Such as @gtaylor57, @billymitchell1 and @martinehunter Note that each handle includes unique content… social media good practice. MLT Creative also tweets “all things B2B” under a unique handle @B2BLaunchPad using targeted keywords and hashtags. The avatar has the MLT Creative branded look, but attracts a generalist audience.

Pitney Bowes took an interesting approach by linking their@PitneyBowes account to a Twitter list of “Pitney Bowes Tweeps” who use their own names but reference Pitney Bowes in their Twitter profiles with a disclaimer, of course.

Additional Advice on Twitter Handles:

Twitter Handles Do’s and Don’ts – This is a good primer from @HubSpot.

Twitter help explains how user names are used in conjunction with your handle. This explains what people will see in your Twitter profile. Good advice when you set up or change your Twitter account.

Check out B2Bbloggers for more articles by Joan Damico

About the Author:
Joan is a B2B marcom consultant and copywriter with more than 15 years experience helping high tech and industrial companies generate leads and sales through integrated marketing communications including SEO copywriting, social media and website content.


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