This one came straight from a client in a meeting, as they were considering setting up their corporate Twitter account:
How do we get started and not look like a Twitter Noob? We have been wanting to tweet for a while, but we don’t want our customers to think we don’t know what we’re doing.
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 more than 300 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.
1) 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 Twitter Profile
Nothing says “faceless Twitter bot” like 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) Sign Up For A Hootsuite Account Or Download TweetDeck
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. They have a decent mobile app, as well. 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 2:1. That means for ever 2 people you follow, try to get one to follow you back by tweeting valuable content or engaging with others in conversations.
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 setting your Gmail look and feel back to the more “classic” view that a lot of people preferred. I might write a tweet that goes something like this:
Don’t like the new look and feel of Gmail and want to revert back to the old, classic view? Here are the steps http://ow.ly/9H1h30mMglL
Notice that nowhere in my tweet is the word “email” or “tip” but these are terms that some people might use to find helpful tips specific to email. So, how do I make sure that my tweet gets in front of those who are interested in email tips? I add their hashtags. So my tweet will end up looking like this, instead:
Don’t like the new look and feel of Gmail and want to revert back to the old, classic view? Here are the steps http://ow.ly/9H1h30mMglL #email #tip
Be sure not to stuff your tweets too full of hashtags. There is such thing as hashtag overload and it gets a little annoying. I advise 2-3 that are specifically on-topic.
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 were initially limited to 140 characters, and that’s still a good guide to use. Also, just because you have more characters, doesn’t mean you should use them all. Try to keep your tweets below 125 characters so that others can retweet your tweets.
In some tools like HootSuite, only displays the first 125 characters anyway…so make sure your entire message is visible by keeping it short and sweet.
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, so try to keep your message clear and concise.
8 ) Use Contractions And Symbols, But Avoid Netslang When Possible
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 – 200 characters in no time.
Don’t just start tweeting and DON’T start tweeting links to your product pages. Also, don’t use Twitter as your personal rant platform.
Twitter is not about marketing and it’s not about anger and rants, it’s about building relationships.
Watch the conversation streams.
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.
Just remember that there are humans on the other ends of those tweets. Treat others with respect and don’t engage in hateful tweeting. Be sure to learn and follow Thumper’s Rule when engaging in social media.
Again…don’t try to sell to your tweeps.
10) Determine How You Can Help Your Followers
Explore the reasons that people following your twitter account? Do they want updates on your products? Are they looking for customer support? Maybe they want coupons or discounts. Find a way to help them.
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: