Madhuri Shekar (a Sony pictures intern) provides some wisdom (some from a 140 conference) about brand best and worst-practices of Twitter, and some of it is useful to individuals. I’ll summarize it, but the examples will make it more memorable and useful.
1) Don’t tweet in a crisis. Actually, I believe companies should tweet in a crisis but not go overboard like Baja Fresh did in response to criticism that it used a competitor’s name to describe a food item. The Twitter administrator for Baja Fresh began @ (replying individually) to many critics, and it came across as desperate pandering. The competitor (KogiBBQ) was quiet, and let its peeps advocate. Baja changed the name of its name from Kogi to Gogi and won credit for being responsive. But Kogi as the quiet underdog ended up looking classier.
2) Don’t tweet “down the foodchain” and let your fans tweet on your behalf. As a better known brand, Baja Fresh gave Kogi significant attention during this crisis.
3) Don’t be funny unless you are. Opt for Inspiration. It’s true that most good humor borders on being offensive, and we can’t read our audience (like we might with physical interactions).
4) Keep a mystique. This is vital advice for individuals and brands. Consider that some stars are very careful about where they’re seen, and how often. Conversely, many YouTube stars do frequent live interactions with their “fans,” which can help connect them with core fans… but also lead to overexposure. While some brands (quirky, organic underdogs) are perfect for Twitter, some are simply too cool for Twitter.
Madhuri ends with this advice: Don’t give it all away on the first tweet, as your mother might say.