Twitter is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, social media platform. I love the real time, fast-paced news feed that helps me learn about current events much faster than many of my peers and the news outlets.
I’ve pulled together a few best practices that I’ve learned from using the service. Some help with your follower count, some help with SEO, some are just pet peeves. Note that these just best practices, there are exceptions to each rule.
#1: You have 140 characters, use 120 of them.
Why do I say to not use 20 of your precious characters? This is for retweeting purposes. If you want someone to retweet your post without having to go through the hassle of shortening your tweet (i.e. changing ‘with’ to ‘w/’), give them some room to work with. Sometimes people want to add their own commentary to your tweet as well.
Exception: Sometimes, you need all 140 characters. That’s fine. They’re yours, use them to your heart’s content, just know that this means if people want to add anything to your tweet when they retweet, it will be more difficult for them.
#2: There’s a time and a place for automated tweets.
In general, Twitter is meant to be a real-time news distributor. This means you should try to steer clear of automated tweets. Most people can tell when they’re automated and, that can lead to less interaction and annoyance (i.e when someone sets automated tweets that send out 15 tweets in a matter of 30 seconds – that’s a very legitimate reason for unfollowing in my book).
Exception: Automated tweeting is ok in moderation. It’s unrealistic for some companies that do business globally to be up 24/7 posting to their social accounts. Different time zones means when you sent that tweet out at 8am EST, there’s a good chance a lot of people on the West Coast were still sleeping. In these cases, I’m all for automated tweeting, but just make sure you use a service like Buffer and that you craft your tweets to make them your own (Buffer allows you to send out automatic tweets that they have in their queue – like inspirational quotes – I would avoid this and use it to send out your own, handcrafted tweets).
#3: Connecting accounts – Think before you send to all
Connecting all your social accounts is great. No wait, actually it’s not. Yes, many people are on more than one platform and they are connected to different people on those different platforms (i.e. friends on Facebook, colleagues on LinkedIn). People join these different platforms for different reasons which is why it’s important to remember that just because you tweet something that may be seen as ‘funny’ by your Twitter followers does not mean that your LinkedIn connections will feel the same.
This is something that brands need to be aware of as well. There’s a good chance if I’m really interested in your brand, I’m following you on more than just Twitter. That being said, I don’t want to see your tweet show up on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. That’s another legitimate reason for an unfollow from me.
Exception: Twitter has plugins that allow you to decide when you want a tweet to show up in more than just your Twitter account. Selective tweets allows you to put certain hashtags at the end of tweets to post them to Facebook (#fb) or LinkedIn (#in). I use these mostly for my personal account because I feel it is more important to brand community managers to take the time to tailor their messages to each individual platform.
#4: Stop the Twitter stereotype, no one cares what you ate for dinner.
When I talk to people who aren’t on Twitter about how much I love it, they often give me a perplexed look and say “Well, I’m just not interested in what people have for dinner.” I then have to explain that Twitter is so much more than that! It’s a news service that gives you real-time updates of global events. However, there are still those who feel the need to tell us every aspect of their lives. I’m all about personal tweets about things happening in your life, but when all you tweet about is what you’re wearing to work or how long you brushed your teeth this morning, you’re perpetuating the stereotype of Twitter to those who don’t use it. Please stop.
Exception: Sometimes, funny things happen with regards to how long it took you to get to work or maybe that meatball sub you had at lunch inspired an amazing business idea. Those types of tweets are ok, just make sure there’s some purpose to them (i.e. they’re entertaining, insightful, etc.)
#5: Your Profile. COMPLETE IT!
One of my biggest pet peeves on Twitter is an incomplete profile. Are you too good to fill it out? For me, an incomplete profile means that there’s a slim chance I’ll follow you unless you’re some super famous person who everyone already knows, and, let’s face it, you’re probably not super famous. Just a sentence or two about who you are, what you do, what you like, etc. can let people know if they might find your tweets interesting without having to pull up your profile and weed through all of your tweets. Also, besides filling out the profile (and adding a link to your company or personal profile!) you NEED to have a picture. There are no exceptions to this best practice. Accounts with an egg as an image automatically register as spam to me. Even if you don’t want people to know who you are, put a picture up of something. Leaving it as the default egg does not look good and will not get you many followers.
As I said, I’m a huge fan of Twitter and I use it everyday. These best practices are what I’ve found to be helpful in getting the most out of this awesome platform.