Pro Tip: If you have a company Twitter account, use it for more than blasting out self-serving advertisements. You are wasting the perfect opportunity to connect with your customers, improve their experience, and address their complaints and concerns!

Want to see an example of what not to do? Check out @GNCLiveWell. It’s not “bad,” or “wrong” per se, but GNC is missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with its customer base. Just take a look at this timeline snapshot.

This is from the feed that shows every tweet from the @GNCLiveWell account, including any @messages sent to other users. Notice how there aren’t any. Looking through the timeline, I see some RTs here and there, and some tweets that are just general “rah rah” type stuff. This type of message blasting is appropriate for somebody like GNC, in moderation of course. They’re out to get people motivated and active. I think that part of their timeline is great.

Here is where I start to have an issue, though. Take note of the number of bit.ly links going on in that timeline snippet. Almost all of them link to a product page on GNC’s web site. I’d say more than half of the tweets from this account are designed as one-way communication in the form of advertisements. Again, none of this is bad, every brand name Twitter account is going to do some advertising, but honestly there’s not much reason to follow an account like this if there is no two-way communication taking place. Brands like GNC should care about this, because without followers nobody sees your tweets!

On the other side of things, look at @garyvee. Gary Vaynerchuck is an entrepreneurial business development guru (also a wine expert), and he is one of my favorite personalities on the Internet. At least 75% of his tweets are conversations with people, true interactions. This is how you build strong relationships with your customers, this is how you get followers, and this is how you leverage a social networking service like Twitter effectively! Gary has published two successful business development books focusing on social media and the evolution of its role in business; he also has a great business selling wine on winelibrary.com. All of this is heavily supported by his use of social media outlets such as Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and numerous others.

I’ll end with this last point. At the time of writing, @GNCLiveWell has 80,614 followers; @garyvee has 918,974.