This month, Twitter celebrated its 9th birthday. With 288 million active users, and 500 million tweets sent daily, it is firmly in the social media mainstream. Despite its popularity, I still often chat with friends and clients who feel they don’t know what they’re doing on Twitter, or are afraid of “tweeting wrong.” Twitter can be a lot of fun and can help you personally and professionally if done right. Whether you’re tweeting as a brand, or as yourself, here are 9 basic tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the platform while avoiding unfortunate faux pas!
- Use Hashtags Effectively: While making sense of things like #PCTO15 (PodCamp Toronto 2015) can seem daunting to the newbie tweeter, they are the glue that holds Twitter conversations together, so they can’t be ignored! Check out what’s trending, or search for things you are interested in and see what hashtags people are using. Also, look out for Twitter Chats, whichare scheduled, real-time conversations on
topics that are organized by hashtag. If you plan to tweet with certain hashtags often, or are tweeting as a brand that wants to create their own hashtag, put them in your Twitter bio. And, as a brand, be mindful of creating short hashtags that can’t be misread, like Susan Boyle’s #susanalbumparty!
- But don’t use too many hashtags! People can get very passionate about their hashtags and want to cover all possible variations, or they turn every other word into a hashtag, making the tweet illegible. Don’t do this! Control your hashtag enthusiasm and stick with 2-3 per tweet, maximum.
- Don’t spam! Twitter can be a great promotional tool, especially when you have an established following, but repeatedly tweeting “Buy my product!” “Support my Kickstarter!” “Come to my game!” is a serious turn-off and will lose you followers. Twitter, like all social media platforms, is a conversational space, and interaction, not broadcasting, is expected.
- Limit automation. Many pros take a tough No Automation stance, but that seems unrealistic to me. For the majority of brands, social media staff (assuming they can afford those) have a variety of tasks and expecting them to be able to send out all of those important tweets at the optimal times is unrealistic. Instead, I recommend a balance between automation and live tweeting to keep followers engaged and your staff sane. For tips on how to effectively use automation tools, check out this blog post by Hootsuite.
- Make your tweets count. Don’t tweet links without putting them in context, or do the equivalent of Vaguebooking by tweeting things like “Today sucked! Can’t believe what happened! #TooSad” These are easy traps to fall into, but your followers will be either confused or turned off if you commit these social media sins.
- Know where you’re @. This is the number one error I see committed on Twitter. If you want all of your followers to see a tweet, do not start it with someone’s Twitter handle. Doing so will send the tweet only to that person even though it is still visible on your twitter feed. Conversely, if you only care about tweeting to a certain person, don’t add the handle at the end. It often feels more natural to put a handle at the beginning of a tweet, even when you want to reach a wider audience. The easiest workaround is to start a tweet with a period: “.@johnsmith I’m glad you enjoyed our show tonight!”
- Stand by your tweets. Regardless of the platform, it is considered unprofessional to regularly delete social media posts, especially if you’re posting as a brand. It confuses followers and will reduce your audience’s confidence in you or your company. To avoid this problem, plan your content in advance, or think before you tweet.
- Don’t favorite your own tweets. Promote them instead! I see people favoriting their own tweets occasionally and can’t understand why they bother, because, trust me; it does not make your tweet look better, and does not make it visible to more followers. It will also mess with your analytics, making it difficult to sort out which tweets are gaining traction. If you have a promotional budget, put money behind your tweet instead. If not, or if you are tweeting on a personal account, just let your tweet go out into the twittersphere and see what honestly resonates with your followers.
- Mind your karma. This should go without saying for brands, but don’t be a jerk, or lose your cool, on the Internet! There are always a few companies, with Amy’s Baking Company being the best (or worst) example, who don’t follow this advice and risk losing customers. If you are tweeting personally, this rule still applies. While your nasty tweets likely won’t reach thousands of people, Twitter is still a public platform and you never know whether a potential employer, friend, family member or possible date for Saturday night is going to find them.
Twitter is my favorite social media platform at the moment. While the speed and immediacy of it may feel confusing at first, the best way to get past that is to start exploring and tweeting yourself, or interacting instead of only broadcasting. The benefits of chatting with people and making real contacts or friends can’t be beat and, after a short time, navigating the platform and following Twitter etiquette will be easy. Want to connect? You can find me at @thelizbuzz Do you have other tips or do’s/don’ts people should follow on Twitter? Let us know in the comments!