Earlier this year Twitter celebrated its sixth anniversary; with over 140 million active users sending over 340 million tweets per day, more and more businesses are jumping on board and tweeting to an ever growing audience. If you’re looking to expand into the world of Twitter, take a look at some basic DOS and DON’TS:
DO make a plan.
Twitter has an audience 24/7. While you can’t be a constant presence online, you can, and should, make the effort to be consistent. Decide how many times you want to tweet per day and make a schedule you can stick to. Include time for interacting with your followers – for retweeting, replying, commenting on trending topics relevant to your business’ and your followers’ interests – as well as sending out your own tweets. Take into account the habits of Twitter users; 3pm to 7pm is a peak time for tweets, but make sure you keep your presence balanced– you don’t want to tweet so often your followers get fed up of you, but you also don’t want to spam your followers with multiple tweets all in one go.
DO make an impression.
Use your account as an extension of your existing brand profile. With an expanding number of businesses competing for attention, you need to make sure your account stands out from the crowd while also encouraging brand awareness and recognition. Use your logo as your profile picture (avatar) and set a background to suit your brand identity; this could be as simple as choosing a background that matches your brand colours or you could have a background designed especially. You should also integrate your Twitter account with any other social media accounts you have and, most importantly, include a link to your website, so your audience can instantly learn more about your business.
DO choose your words carefully.
Your Twitter account is a representation of your brand or company so you need to give the same level of care and attention to the vocabulary, grammar and spelling of your tweets as any other piece of copy. While you want your business to have a friendly and approachable “voice” on Twitter, you also need to create a professional presence that lets people know you are a reliable and trustworthy resource. “Jargon” may have originally meant the “chattering of birds”, but if your tweeting is bogged down by business terms and industry specific phrases, your audience isn’t going to understand you and, more importantly, they may not want to bother trying. Twitter lets you have a “conversation” with your audience, so keep your vocabulary friendly and familiar. You might also find that “social” jargon can be just as off-putting. Textspeak and lolspeak are fine for personal conversations, but your Twitter audience will not necessarily be familiar with, or appreciate, tweets full of abbreviations, acronyms or emoticons. While they seem like a shortcut to a friendly tone and a way to save on those all important 140 characters, your message may end up lost in translation or simply ignored.
DO make the most of what you’ve got.
140 characters is not a lot of space, so if you’ve got a lot to say consider linking to a longer blog post or webpage, and save your characters even further by shortening URLS, using www.bitly.com. Make it easier for people to retweet your messages by leaving them a few characters spare for an RT or response.
DO follow the leader(s).
Following, retweeting and sending tweets to key influencers in your industry is a great way to get involved in relevant conversations and discussions, and can help you to not only gain exposure to potential followers but also to establish yourself as an expert or reliable resource in your industry.
DO get people talking.
Getting people talking is a great way to get your name out there. You can join in trends or discussions started by other people, but why not try going the extra step and start the conversations. Share your own insights and opinions or pose questions to your followers, asking them to respond with a hashtag. Engaging your audience in conversations and debates relevant to their interests helps to establish your business as a resource for information, and gives people a reason to take a closer look at your business and the products or services that you offer.
DO take the good with the bad.
Twitter gives people an online forum to air their opinions and that means sharing exactly what they think of your business. Whether it’s is a glowing recommendation or a capslock fuelled complaint, you should always respond where appropriate. Retweet positive comments or send a thank you tweet (using the @tag); making people feel included will help you build a strong relationship with your audience. When dealing with negative comments, don’t panic but make sure you act quickly. Acknowledge that the person has experienced a problem and either offer them a solution or give them a direct contact who can help resolve the situation. It doesn’t matter if someone has something good or bad to say; making a connection via Twitter makes that person feel valued, gives them a reason to think more highly of your business and, hopefully, motivates them to mention your name to others.
DON’T sell, sell, sell.
Social Media is a means of communication and, as with any good conversation, you need to have variety. If your tweets are 100% sales messages, people may decide you have nothing of value to say and will simply “walk away” from your account. Offering a variety of comments, ideas and information creates incentive to stick around. Ideally you should aim for an 80/20 split and, when you do tweet sales messages, be enthusiastic about your event, product or service; tell people how your business can help them, rather than simply shouting about a price.
DON’T abandon your post.
When users see large gaps in your timeline, or an account that hasn’t been updated in months, they see a business without a reliable, constant presence that they would be confident engaging with. You may also be at risk of spam tweets, and you could miss messages from existing or potential customers, who may not bother trying to reach you again. Similarly, if you do get involved in a dialogue with others, make sure you respond promptly. Twitter allows for real-time conversations between businesses and clients, but if you don’t reply to messages in a timely fashion it won’t take long for a user to find another business who will give them an answer as and when they ask a question.
DON’T get too personal.
You might be an individual speaking on behalf of a business, but the voice of your Twitter account must always be that of the business. You are an ambassador for your brand, so keep your opinions for your own personal account. Responses should be warm and approachable, but professional – getting involved in a twitter war may not only offend the individuals involved, but other users will see exactly how you behave, and avoid you accordingly. If you do need to engage with an individual in more detail, but don’t want your exchange to be public, use direct messaging (DM) instead.
DON’T forget to take a picture.
You can tweet images and show users exactly what you have to offer. While social media is primarily intended for verbal communication, it is also a great visual medium. There are plenty of third-party solutions for adding pictures to your posts, so make sure you take advantage of the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, especially when you only have 140 characters to play with.
DON’T let some(thing) else do all the talking.
Relying on scheduled tweets can be a dangerous tactic. If you’re not there to participate in the resulting discussion, you may miss out on some great opportunities to make new connections, and, if you’re not available to comment on or explain further what you’ve tweeted, there’s always a possibility that people could misunderstand or misinterpret what you’ve said, or simply become frustrated that you’re not available to discuss something they’re interested in. You risk seeming less personal and engaged with your audience, and you may end up being dismissed as spam.