oops_istock_000008179465xsmallWhat happens these days when we get stuck in traffic, the airline loses our luggage, or the copier at work is jammed? Tweet about it, of course. Or blog. Or Facebook. Sure, we’ve all done it. Even on our business profiles.

And why not? It is social media, after all — a chance to show the personal side of business. For professionals, social media sites allow us to chat, vent, joke, commiserate, and share experiences with people who (we hope) will understand.

If a service provider gives you terrible service, it can be good to share that information (in the clearest, most constructive voice you can muster). Companies should be aware of this facet of social media and see it as an opportunity to respond and improve their service.  But it’s different when you’re sharing gripes about your clients and customers. 

While it may be tempting to jump on Twitter or Facebook when you’re irritated about a client forgetting to return your call or not listening to your excellent advice, don’t do it.  No matter how well you think you veil your comments in anonymity, you can never be sure who’s watching and reading between the lines.
Of course, you may not care about keeping an offending client, but what about the others? What other clients or potential clients are noticing those posts?  People don’t have to be registered with sites like Twitter to see your tweets, you know. What do they think about them?  Your complaint may be perfectly valid and worthy of a witty or scathing comment. Yet, are you absolutely sure you’re portraying the professional image you want industry leaders and potential clients to see?

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like are making it easier than ever to share how we’re feeling in the moment.  But never, ever forget: those tweets and posts are public and permanent.  Did you know the U.S. Library of Congress is archiving every public Tweet you send? And who knows what Facebook is going to do with all our information.  That should give us all pause. 

Always be mindful of your public persona and brand on social media.

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As a business-to-business (B2B) professional in Europe, does the pervasive use of Twitter in North America mystify you? Do you think of it solely as the domain of bored American teenagers and Hollywood stars? I understand. I did, too, until I tried it — and now it's a vital component of my marketing strategy and business development.

After reading the smart discussion on Twitter's #B2Bchat last week about best practices for professional and corporate Twitter (transcript), I was inspired to share what I've learned from great minds like theirs as well as my own experiences.

I hope this will convince some of you who are wavering about Twitter to give it a try — and to do it with the right mindset.*

* It's difficult to write something about Twitter without using jargon. If you need definitions and instructions, read Mashable's excellent guide to Twitter.

1. Twitter is a Good Investment of Your Time. Really.
I know what many of you are thinking, because I thought it, too: "Isn't Twitter just a glorified Facebook status — a place to drone on uselessly about what music you're listening to and where you're meeting your friends for dinner? It's not useful for business, right?" Wrong. Surprisingly, it's been one of the best time investments I've made this year — yielding new contacts, an endless supply of industry news, and the opportunity to interact directly with leaders, influencers, and prospects. Of course, it all depends on the people you follow... and who's following you.

2. Don't Worry if You Don't Find Your Clients on Twitter. Focus on Industry Influencers & Thought-Leaders.
Since there aren't as many Twitter users in Europe as there are in the USA, it seems logical to say you won't try Twitter because you won't find your clients on Twitter. But there are other ways to reach your clients. Don't underestimate the power of influencing the influencers. Follow industry leaders, critics, journalists, researchers, and others who influence your clients, competitors, and the media. You can gain an incredible amount of knowledge from these people as well as position yourself as an industry leader by sharing your own knowledge. And being among the first in your region to adopt social media is a real advantage. You'll have an established presence and influence while others are playing catch-up.

3. Realize It's Social: Follow and Interact.
Twitter is social media. If it were only about broadcasting information, we would call it news media or advertising. Twitter offers people something different — something immensely valuable — a chance to instantly and personally interact with and influence people, brands, policy-makers, and more. Don't be afraid of negative comments. Everyone makes mistakes. How you respond can boost your reputation better than you'd imagine. Seek to be inclusive, not exclusive. Follow those who follow you (within reason). It's ok to ignore the spammers, get-rich-quick schemers, and those who only care about numbers. But for those who sincerely want to follow you, it's important to reciprocate.

4. Twitter Success is About Consistency of Value and Interaction.
Twitter is a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" kind of place. In the Twitterverse, information is here and gone almost instantly. You can't hang your laurels on one incredibly smart, poignant, and timely tweet. On Twitter, your reputation, influence, and reach are based on your averages. It's not who you are on your best day, but who you are everyday. It's your consistency of value and interaction that counts. Be prepared to offer a steady stream of useful, helpful, interesting information.

5. Don't Feel Pressured to Perform or Conform. Find Your Voice. Be Yourself.
The pressure of producing consistent value and interaction holds a lot of people back from trying Twitter — especially if it's just you running the business or the social media efforts. I understand. I felt the same way. However, I get great ideas from reading others' posts, and many threads evolve simply from interacting with people. For inspiration, follow other professionals in your industry to learn from what they're doing successfully and not so successfully. Then, try to create something that is uniquely you.

6. Have a Plan or You'll Get Sucked into a Twitter Time Warp.
We all know social media can be addictive. (How many hours I wasted when I first discovered Facebook flair, I'll never tell.) However, with a good plan in place, you can avoid a lot of the time drain, keep your focus, and get better results faster. Kent Huffman (CMO of BearCom Wireless) wrote a fantastic blog piece to help you plan an effective and efficient strategy for creating a B2B community on Twitter.

7. If You Want Global Reach, You Will Need to Use English — at Least Part of the Time.
Unless you have absolutely no business dealings outside your own country, you will need to use English for Twitter — at least part of the time. And even if you do only operate domestically, I'd still recommend using English. It will enable you to interact with others in your industry around the world. That's one of the advantages of Twitter: instant global interaction. Consider writing your Twitter bio in English and translating important tweets.

8. To Interact with an International Audience, Use Scheduled Tweets.
Obviously, you can't be on Twitter 24/7. That means the majority of your U.S. audience won't notice the tweet you sent at 9:00 am central Europe time. So, if you have an important message for people in a different time zone, use a Twitter scheduler to automatically send the tweet at a specific time. (Try free services like TweetDeck or HootSuite.) Just be careful not to spam. Sending the same or similar tweets repeatedly throughout the day is annoying and a good way to get dropped by your followers.

9. Give it at Least 3 Months of Concerted Effort before Forming an Opinion.
Twitter is not an overnight project. It takes time to gain a quality following, test the features, show up on influencers' radars, and build relationships. I've been at it 3 months and I've only scratched the surface. Give yourself at least one full quarter before doing an evaluation — and make sure you go "all in" during that time.

► If you're an experienced Twitterer, what other advice would you give someone who isn't convinced Twitter is good for business?

► If you're in B2B, what questions do you have about Twitter's usefulness for your business?

► If you're ready to create a Twitter profile, be sure to follow me @useglobalreach. I'd love to hear from you.

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Welcome to our new website and blog!  My name is Ann-Christin, and I'm the writer behind GlobalReach Copywriting.   As you've probably figured out from reading through the site, we're all about helping you get the best results from your English marketing and communications.  Hopefully, you'll find in this blog a wealth of information to encourage, motivate, inform, and support you. 

As you can imagine, we have a lot going on around here as we launch the new site.  So, please bear with us as we go through a bit of a testing phase in the coming weeks.  Please, drop by often to see what's new and visit us on twitter, too!

It's my privilege to partner with you in achieving your business goals.

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