This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.
Small and medium business owners are increasingly turning to Twitter as a tool to engage with customers, offer support and market their products and services.
Twitter has a dedicated landing page for businesses, including tips and tricks on getting started with the service, various advertising opportunities and case studies.
Protecting identity and reputation are essential for a small business, especially online. Although Twitter isn't currently offering small business users a way to verify their accounts, there are still things business owners can do to give their accounts better visibility and make it clear that they are "official."
Link Your Accounts and Profiles
Twitter's username policy does not allow users to "reserve" a username; it's first come, first served. As a result, business owners who have a more generic company name might find that the desired Twitter handle is already taken.
That's not the end of the world, in fact, it can be an opportunity to better distinguish your brand or business, especially if the business name is more common.
Additionally, users can add a URL to their Twitter profile pointing to their business website and add links on their business site to their official Twitter account. Noting "official Twitter account for Business Name" in your Twitter biography can also make the account's identity more clear.
Likewise, if you have a verified page on Facebook, Foursquare or Google Places, you can add links to your Twitter account on those services, too.
Protect Your Trademark and Logos
For small business owners who hold the trademarks over a business name, Twitter has a more nuanced policy.
If I own the trademark for "Cafe Christina" and a Twitter account for @cafe_christina or @cafechristina is causing intentional or unintentional confusion with my business, Twitter might be able to help.
If another Twitter account in question is using your trademark or logo in a way that is trying to confuse others, users can submit a help ticket requesting help. Twitter will look at the situation, and if it finds that the other party is trying to mislead, it may suspend that user (and grant you ownership of the account).
If the account is confusing to users, but isn't intended to mislead, Twitter will give the account holder the opportunity to work things out and may ultimately release the username to the trademark holder.
Remember, if someone is using a name you have trademarked in a way that has nothing to do with your product or service, Twitter is not obligated to intervene.
Customize Your Profile
Small businesses can make their business affiliation even more clear by customizing their Twitter profile to match their branding, logo and color scheme.
Author: / Posted: 15-08-2011