10 Surefire Ways To Avoid Looking Like A Twitter Noob

So, you’re ready to Tweet, right? You’ve realized that Twitter isn’t just people sharing what they ate for breakfast and that there might be some real value to engaging with the 100 million active users that might give you valuable insights about your products, services, and competitors. Before  you jump in and start tweeting away, here are seven tips that can help you avoid looking like a newbie and (hopefully) avoid some common pitfalls.

One way to avoid being a Twitter noob is to upload a profile photo of yourself1) Don’t Be An Egg – Adjust your Twitter profile photo to something other than the egg. Most users would prefer to interact with a human being, so consider having the person managing your Twitter account upload their photo. If you absolutely don’t want a persons’ face, then at least upload a nice, high-res image of your company or brand logo.

2) Fill out your profile – Nothing irks me more than a follow from a Twitter profile with no description. Who are you? What do you like? Are you actually a human being? Why should I follow you back? Take 5 minutes and come up with a short description that tells me something about you.

3)Download Tweetdeck or sign up for a HootSuite account – Nobody really tweets from Twitter.com. It’s hard to follow all the conversations and you can’t look at multiple conversation streams at the same time. Tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck make Twitter much easier to use and manage. Personally, I like HootSuite because it’s web-based and I can access it anywhere. TweetDeck has it’s benefits too, so try one and if you don’t like it, try the other.

4) Follow some folks – It’s likely that you know people on Twitter. Your employees are probably tweeting. Your competitors are probably tweeting. Heck, your grandma might be tweeting. Click the Follow button and their status updates will start appearing in your home feed. If you’re interested in learning more about social media, feel free to follow me @socmedsean. Don’t go follow crazy, though. Twitter does look at certain following:follower ratios to identify spam accounts, so try to keep your follower to following ratio around 1:1.

5) Learn what a hashtag is and how to use it – On Twitter, hashtags are used to categorize your tweet into a specific topic. For instance, suppose I write a blog post about signs that organizations might not understand Enterprise 2.0 and I want to make sure that everyone on Twitter who is interested in intranets sees my tweet. I might write a tweet that goes something like this:

10 Signs Your Organization Hasn’t Quite Figured Out Enterprise 2.0 http://ow.ly/7GiEs

Notice that nowhere in my tweet is the word “intranet”. So, how do I make sure that my tweet gets in front of those who are interested in intranets? I add the intranet hashtag. So my tweet will end up looking like this, instead:

10 Signs Your Organization Hasn’t Quite Figured Out Enterprise 2.0 http://ow.ly/7GiEs #intranet

Be sure not to stuff your tweets too full of hashtags. There is such thing as hashtag overload and it gets a little annoying.

This cmgr search finds Twitter conversations relating to community management

This search identifies tweets relating to community management by searching the #cmgr hashtag

6) Set up some searches and conversations to follow – In TweetDeck and HootSuite, your home feed represents the tweets from people you are following. You can set up additional columns, however, that consists of mentions of specific search terms. For instance, I like to hear what people say about online community management, so I have a column that filters all the tweets for the #cmgr hashtag. This allows me to easily see what topics people are discussing that relate to that topic. Set up searches for your company name, brand names, and industry keywords. Heck, set up searches for your competitors and see what your prospective customers think about their products.

7) Learn the limits and get comfortable with them – Tweets are limited to 140 characters, but that doesn’t mean you should use them all. Try to keep your tweets below 125 characters so that others can retweet your tweets. When someone retweets you, it adds “RT” and your twitter handle to the message, which could cause their RT to go above 140 characters. They then have the choice of either editing the tweet or not retweeting it. Either way is not optimal for your message.

8 ) Use contractions and symbols, but avoid netslang – Instead of typing “would not”, type “won’t”. Instead of “did not”, use “didn’t”. Use the & symbol instead of typing “and”. These small adjustments can save you characters and help make your messages easier to retweet. Avoid using netslang, though. Things like “UR” instead of “your” or “2″ instead of “to” can make your tweets confusing. Take the time to craft and re-craft your tweets to say what you want within the limits. It’s a skill that takes a little time to develop, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be typing in 125 characters in no time.

9) Listen – Don’t just start tweeting and DON’T start tweeting links to your product pages. Twitter is not about marketing, it’s about building relationships. Again, listen. Watch the conversation streams. Learn. Then, engage in human conversations. See someone that has a question, answer it. Have an opinion on a tweet? Express it. Commented on a blog post? Share it.

Again…don’t try to sell to your tweeps.

10) Determine how you can help your followers – Why are people following your twitter account? Do they want updates on products? Are they looking for customer support? Maybe they want coupons or discounts. Ask them what they’d like to see from you and then provide it, when possible. Contribute to the community and you’ll see big returns from your followers.

I hope these tips help get you started on Twitter and help you avoid some of the common pitfalls. Happy tweeting and let me know if you have additional tips to add.

Also, be sure to check out a couple of other related articles:

Cheers,

–Sean

Comments And Reactions

  1. 10 Surefire Ways To Avoid Looking Like A Twitter NooB http://t.co/UabWiS58 via @socmedsean

  2. 10 Surefire Ways To Avoid Looking Like A #Twitter NooB http://t.co/rB91qcO5 via @socmedsean #li

  3. Ten Surefire Ways To Avoid Looking Like A #Twitter NewB > http://t.co/WCdEo1AK via @socmedsean > #SocialMedia #SMM #job #in

  4. @JoannaWilliamsE Take a look especially at 1, 2, 4, & 5: http://t.co/QEXLDMFe #noobisms

  5. 10 Surefire Ways To Avoid Looking Like A Twitter NooB http://t.co/S6jxyYrD

  6. Thank you for writing this! Oh, how I dread seeing that egg avatar!

  7. Thank you, I am one of the newbies you mention so I really need to reas stuff to put me up to date. Thank you!

  8. Sean, aloha. Though it is slightly more advanced, I do think that people need to learn about tweetchats and how to use them. Since they are held on twitter, I figured this suggestion was a fit with your post.

    Great list–especially the egg. If I receive a follow request and it is an egg, I do not follow back. Friends do not let friends follow eggs!

    • Completely agree, Janet! Tweetchats can be overwhelming at first if there are a lot of conversations going on, but they can also be great ways to learn about a specific niche and meet a lot of great new tweeps!

      Personally, I use the combination of Tweetchat.com and Hootsuite to manage the tweetchat conversations. You?

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  9. ALL excellent points! Also: Twitter is a conversation with the world. Use the same manners as in real life conversations. Acknowledge. Thank. Be genuine.

  10. Dana J Lange says:

    Great list. I would add be human and be sincere. Sometimes people just want a laugh or some fun.

  11. So funny, nice form bro

  12. stud

  13. Thank you. Useful tips.

  14. great article, i agree with all your thoughts, I have however broke your rule of not tweeting my product page….im still thinking about that one….any more thoughts from you as to that one?

    • I think the challenge is to balance content that is useful for the Twitter community vs. content that benefits you. I like to always use that 80/20 rule, where 80% of my tweets are promoting other people, carrying on conversations, or uncovering new resources. The other 20% can be about my blog posts or content.

      Hope that helps!

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  15. A nice article Sean. I think you’ve got it pretty much covered.

  16. If I may add, stop tweeting about yourself and your “achievements” 95% of the time.

    Example: This popular group is just reached out to me to this OR I just finished a video for so and so. It get’s annoying. Really. (Haha sorry!)

    Great article for beginners. Number one made me chuckle so much by the way.

  17. The greatest tips for Twitter ever! :)

    Thank you.

  18. I Like this tip:

    Use contractions and symbols, but avoid netslang – Instead of typing “would not”, type “won’t”. Instead of “did not”, use “didn’t”. Use the & symbol instead of typing “and”. These small adjustments can save you characters and help make your messages easier to retweet. Avoid using netslang, though. Things like “UR” instead of “your” or “2″ instead of “to” can make your tweets confusing. Take the time to craft and re-craft your tweets to say what you want within the limits. It’s a skill that takes a little time to develop, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be typing in 125 characters in no time.

  19. Oh yes, those egg heads drive me crazy. I believe you can tweet from your site but no more than 20% of the time and it should be informational including special new products or sale.

  20. Hello Sean,
    Is it important to add a face?
    I am prone to use a logo or obscure and esoteric shots of myself. I kinda know that this might put “people” off a bit. However the content is matched to the Profile description which is your #2.
    I use Twitter as a SM tool only for 1 account @MyEmpireAve. The others are all very personal and offer a selection of thoughts from my varied interests and slant on life.
    Great article as always.

    • Thanissaro,

      In my opinion, logos/images are good…but faces are better. People like to know that they are interacting with a person, even if they are a representative of a company.

      Just my $.02…

      Cheers!

      –Sean

  21. Sean: I always tell people to think about content in the law of thirds. 1/3: conversation, 1/3: value content/links, 1/3: self promotion. But I usually err on the side of value content, then conversation, then the self promo stuff is less than a third. But it helps people visualize the balance.

  22. Great post, the only point I disagree with is getting on not using Twitter.com, the Twitter.com app for iPad is excellent for live tweeting.

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