With an estimated 100,000,000 active accounts and an average of 230,000,000 tweets sent just in September alone, Twitter is undeniably a tempting choice for marketers and companies alike. Invariably, the conversation begins with somebody saying, “Hey – we need to be on Twitter!” So an account gets created, people start tweeting and then bammo, instant huge followership, right?
Well, not exactly. While Twitter is an excellent tool for building and monitoring your brand, and demonstrating thought leadership, it absolutely has to be done in the right way. Twitter, like all social media channels, is about developing conversations and even better, relationships with people. But if all you are tweeting are corporate announcements and/or self-promoting, you may find your audience diminishing – and fast.
Here are a few Twitter best practices I’ve learned over time:
1. Create a branded presence.
Develop a background that’s interesting and lets people know who you are right off the bat. If it’s a personal twitter account, always go with a personal profile photo rather than an avatar – remember, people want to know you and a picture communicates that so much better than a cartoon. Leverage your profile description to communicate clearly what kind of company you are, or where your interests lie.
2. Think about your content strategy.
What are you trying to accomplish and who are you trying to reach? It’s easy to push out random announcements about your company or activities. But what is really interesting to the audience you’re trying to develop? Relevant industry news, best practices and thought leadership articles are all great resources to draw upon.
3. Be very careful of what you say.
It takes a while to build an audience, but it can take just moments to lose them. Case in point, Oscar producer Brett Ratner’s recent thoughtless remarks incited a firestorm of controversy…and a lost job for Ratner. In that same vein, no one really wants to hear what you’re having for lunch…need I say more?
4. Consistency is king.
Yes, it does matter that you have a consistent showing of tweets. One, you’re establishing that you’re engaged and providing value. Secondly, if someone comes to your profile and sees that there’s a month between tweets, you’re probably not going to capture much of their interest. At a minimum – once a day is nice.
5. No spamming. Period.
We’re all pretty familiar with tweets that are either a blatant sales pitch or regurgitation of content – both no-no’s. Another less talked about one is posting multiple tweets all in a row. This will really tick people off – seriously. A better game strategy is to space your tweets out over the course of a day. If you don’t have time to manage this, there are some great platforms on the market now that will allow you to schedule your tweets.
Find some really great people to follow and comment on their tweets. BUT, please do not simply regurgitate their content. Add a personal comment or spin to your retweet to show why you’re interested and/or found value. And be sure to reference where you got the content from by using “RT” and the user name, or in the case of multiple sources, “via” and the user names.
7. Pay attention.
When someone comments on or retweets your information or sends a direct message, they’re engaging with you. No matter if it’s good or bad, responding in a timely fashion is really important. And, you’d be surprised how much people appreciate it when you say thank you.