Over the past several years, a growing number of brands have decided to invest significant amounts of time and money in Twitter. One of the most popular social networks in the world, Twitter has become, for many of those brands, a key component of a social media strategy.

For B2B companies, many of which keep an eye on what their B2C counterparts are doing, Twitter has also been a target for investment in social media.

But how can B2B companies capitalize on the Twitter opportunity? Here are 10 tips.

1. Follow the money

Twitter is sort of like a party: signing up is like RSVPing, but to take part in the fun, you actually have to show up. That means following the right people so that you can find the conversations that are relevant to your business and industry.

2. Spread the love

If you’re only planning to use Twitter to promote your own content, you’re doing it wrong. To gain credibility, try to maximize how useful the content that you post is to those who follow you. In most cases, that means sharing interesting links to articles, blog posts and other websites that aren’t directly associated with your company.

3. Rock the boat

You don’t have to be conventional to succeed on Twitter, and that’s true for B2B businesses as well. You undoubtedly have opinions, some of which may be counterintuitive and controversial, but present them in a thoughtful, articulate manner and it can make your Twitter feed a lot more interesting.

4. Put a human face on your presence

Marketers throw around phrases like ‘brand engagement’ but the reality is that most of us don’t want to interact with a brand; we want to interact with real people.

So don’t let your Twitter account be a faceless entity in the social mediasphere. From allowing a specific employee to ‘own’ your account or to posting fun content (like photos) that show your company is run by real people, there are numerous ways you can ensure your Twitter profile has a real personality.

5. Listen

There is no shortage of reputation monitoring solutions that companies can use to listen in on what people are saying about them. The reality for all but the biggest brands, however, is that very few individuals are talking about you a daily basis.

Even so, that doesn’t mean that listening is a worthless exercise. Just make sure you’re listening for the right things: in addition to being on the lookout for the rare tweet about your company, listen in for tweets containing terms related to your industry.

6. Sell, sell, sell — but do it well

Social networks like Twitter aren’t an invitation to spam, but don’t shy away from legitimate opportunities to identify potential customers and introduce them to your offering. If your company sells enterprise document management software, for instance, and you notice a tweet from somebody asking about enterprise document management software (because you’re listening of course), don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and invite a dialog. Just be sure to leave the hard sell at home.

7. Don’t buy followers

Bigger isn’t always better in the world of social media. Sure, it’s nice to have a big number for your follower count, but for B2B businesses in particular, quality almost always trumps quantity, so skip the temptation to build a faux audience and go for the real thing.

8. Dress to impress

Your Twitter profile is an extension of your brand online, so treat it as you would your own website. Even though you have far less flexibility, take advantage of your ability to customize your profile by, at a minimum, adding a quality profile photo and well-designed background.

9. Be careful about who you put in charge

For many businesses, getting started with social media can be an intimidating undertaking. Sometimes, that makes relying on an employee — often a younger employee who seems to be well-versed in social media — an attractive proposition. But be careful: an employee’s prolific personal use of social media doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she will be able to manage your company’s Twitter account appropriately.

10. Think twice before throwing in the towel

If you’ve made the decision to join Twitter, make sure you’re in it to win it. Setting up shop on Twitter only to leave a few months later isn’t a good strategy. This is particularly true if your Twitter account rises in the SERPs and becomes a highly-visible part of your search profile.

FUNNEL, Econsultancy’s B2B marketing conference, is taking place on 13 November at Emirates Stadium, London. You can see the agenda and register at funnel-marketing.com