The thing with Twitter is, you’re either on the bus, or you’re not. Those that aren’t think it’s just a passing fad and don’t really understand it. But, it’s becoming increasingly important as part of any brand building strategy.

In a recent article, out of the 100 most mentioned brands on Twitter, less than half have a Twitter account. And, some of those aren’t really making the most of their presence.

It seems crazy to think that there’s a whole heap of conversations going on about these brands in the twitterverse and these brands aren’t even listening, let alone participating. You can bet your last dollar that if these conversations were happening in print, they’d be watching, reading and taking notes. But here, they choose to ignore.

So, if you are one of those brands that is not taking part in the twitterverse, you’re probably wondering where to start. So here’s my beginner’s guide to brand building with Twitter in 6 easy steps.

1. Clarify your objective!
You must first decide on what basis you are going to participate. Is it to enhance your brand story and add personality, or is it for customer services? Are you going to have just the one twitter account or are you going to encourage employees to tweet. Word of warning with the latter: make sure this is part of a wider social media strategy that permeates the business so that everyone concerned is clear on best practices. Reputations can be destroyed online in seconds, both personal and corporate.

2. Decide on the nature of your tweets
It may be worth having some guidelines in place as to the sorts of things that your brand will tweet about. It’s not about sell, sell, sell, but about listen, engage, listen, and engage. So how are you going to engage? And, when you listen, how will you respond? There are 6 main types of tweet;
a. Brand news
b. Customer support
c. Feedback
d. Special offers
e. Interesting info or resources
f. Random thoughts

You will need to be clear as how you will employ each of these and if you will actually use all of them. Some say, it’s best to reserve using the last one for personal brands. But, if random titbits is part of your brand story then why not?

3. Register your brand name twitter profile
Make sure you pick something that sounds right. You may want to use your name to reinforce your brand message in some way.

4. Create your Twitter page
Use the background to display your brand assets and key brand messages. You might want to use the profile pic to display your logo. Some brands put a pic of the person managing the account. This reinforces the personal nature of twitter and can be a good tactic if twitter is a key strand of your customer services strategy.

5. Allocate resource to maintain your twitter account.
There’s nothing worse for a brand than lack of consistency and the same applies here. The person who’s job it is to manage your twitter account must be very clear on the brand values and proposition. Twitter can enhance your brand if used correctly. It can also destroy.

6. Listen, listen, listen
I know, I’ve mentioned this already, but it’s a biggie. It’s important to track what is being said in the twitterverse, so make sure that your twitterer is using an application that allows you to keep track of your brand mentions. It’s also a good idea to listen to what’s being said about your competitors as well as your product/service category. You could pick up some great ideas for new product development or service improvements.