Twitter Do’s and Don’ts

Jun 13, 2011   //   by Raylene   //   Blog, Twitter  //  2 Comments

Twitter is a fun, fast-moving form of social media that some people are unsure about or maybe find a bit intimidating. Others have jumped into the Twitterstream with both feet, knowing that it’s important, or at the very least fun, but they aren’t using it well.  140-character updates are flying around left right and center, and you’re either on-board or you’re sitting on the sidelines trying to figure it all out!  Whether you’re just getting started, or have been tweeting for a while, here are some Twitter Do’s and Don’ts.

DON’T join Twitter unless you actually intend to be active on it.

Twitter Logo
I hate to start with a “don’t” but this one is pretty important. It’s no secret that social media is the place to be for marketing and interactions online, and many people see the immense value in having a Twitter account set up. However, other than a posting few tweets to start with right after setting up the account, many people also leave their account dormant. This almost looks worse than having no twitter account at all. It looks like you’re uninterested, or too busy. Twitter is about being interactive, and a poorly managed twitter account says that you don’t care to interact. A marginally active or dormant twitter profile is self-defeating.

If you’re going to have a twitter account, be sure that you are ready to maintain it and be active with it, interacting with people and seeking followers. Otherwise, stay off of twitter until you’re ready to engage there. Another option is to have a social media manager to help you to maintain your Twitter account (and other social media profiles), to keep it up-to-date and active, while retaining your personal voice.  Being active is the only option you have on Twitter!

DO select your Twitter name carefully.

Your Twitter name (username, or Twitter handle, as it is commonly called) will be how all of your Twitter followers know you.  In a Twitterstream, followers will only see your Twitter name, not your business name, or your own name, so you want to be selective when choosing your Twitter name.  You can only use 15 characters in your name and you want it to be representative of you or your business.  It needs to be recognizable and usually something relatively readable, that people can figure out and relate to quickly, while attributing that name to you or your business.

You’ll also want to be careful to look at your username from many different perspectives to see if it could possibly be read as something different than you intend.  For example, a good friend of mine is @knitwitshair and her blog is The Knit Wit (by Shair). Even though I know who she is, I always read her twitter name as “knit wits hair” instead of “knit wit shair”.  My personal twitter is @OKtobeWEIRD and I’ve had a few people comment that they think it’s meant to say “October Weird”… this wasn’t an option I had ever considered, but I can see how it would happen.  So, you need to be careful in choosing your Twitter name.  (see What kind of Twitter name should you choose? for more details.) A social media manager can ensure that your desired username is available across all social media profiles, and make sure to get them all (or as many of them as you intend to use) registered for you.  They can also advise on good possibilities for Twitter names / usernames for your specific business.  Having a Twitter name that accurately reflects you or your business is an important first impression for your Twitter followers.

DO add a personal profile picture to your Twitter account.

A good profile picture says a lot about you and your business, company or organization. Even just using your logo helps people to identify with your brand across all your social media profiles as well as your real life business face. A profile pic that is consistent everywhere people find you means you’ll be easily recognizable, and you want people to be able to pick you out of the Twitterstream crowd.

No Twitter Egg

A generic, Twitter-generated profile picture says a lot, as well – but none of it is good. Leaving the generic ‘egg’ or ‘bird’ profile pictures on your account says that you’re not serious about Twitter and your followers there. It also says that you don’t care about how you’re seen online, or your just too lazy to take the time to personalize your profile. I know people who do not follow tweeters at all if they have a generic twitter profile picture. You could be losing out on valuable followers if you do not change to a personal profile picture.

It actually isn’t very difficult to change the profile picture for your Twitter account. See this Quick Post: How to Change Your Twitter Profile Picture. If you need assistance with this kind of thing, either uploading a twitter picture, or even in deciding what to use as your profile photo, a Social Media Manager can help get you set up and moving in the right direction. No matter how you get it done, having a personal or customized profile picture on your Twitter account is a must!

DO fill out the Twitter Profile COMPLETELY.

There is NOT a lot of information to fill out on a twitter profile. A few basic bits of information, and a 160-character bio (a little blurb about yourself or your business) – that’s all! A sure sign that you just don’t care is leaving your twitter bio blank.  It’s boring, and it (obviously) gives nothing for your potential followers to connect with.  If there’s no snippet to read about you, how will people know if they want to follow you?

Another reality is that many people who use Twitter for spam accounts (accounts that tweet only affiliate links or links to adult websites, etc.) do not take the time to fill out those biographies.  At first glance, you may be mistaken for one of those spammers if you don’t have your bio completed, and you definitely don’t want that kind of affiliation going on!  Take the extra 45 seconds to put a Twitter bio in place – even if it’s not a great one to start with, it will be better than nothing, and you can edit it at any time to  improve it as necessary.  Social Media Managers specialize in getting your profiles set up properly, whether that be Twitter, or Facebook, or what have you, and they use consistent information and images across all your social media profiles so that everything matches and your brand is promoted on every outlet.

DON’T use True-Twit or other validation services on your Twitter account.

Many tweeters are concerned with getting followed by too many ‘spam’ accounts, and are using twitter validation services to make followers prove they are real people and not a spam bot or spam account. This may be a valid concern (though I’m likely to disagree), but these validation services are a huge hassle for most tweeters. I want to click Follow and be following you – I do NOT want to click Follow, and then have to ALSO click a link in a Direct Message (DM) that takes me to a page where I have to fill out a captcha, at which point I am THEN following you. It’s too many steps, and if tweeters are having to do that for everyone, they are simply not going to do it.

A wise blogger once told me that when we’re dealing with spam online, whether it be spam twitter accounts, spam comments, etc., it’s OUR job as the blogger/tweeter/facebooker to deal with it, NOT our followers job. If we’re hoping to add followers on any of these services, our job is to make it as easy as possible for them to comment/follow/like, etc. Remove as many roadblocks to interaction as possible. If you’re concerned about the spam accounts, they are usually not hard to pick out of your twitter stream and you can unfollow them later if necessary.

Twitter Auto-DM spam? Cut it out!

For most people, a follower is a follower, and when you’re trying to add numbers to your follower count, especially to begin with, a few spam accounts will definitely not hurt your account.  Social Media Managers can help to maintain your account by following or unfollowing people based on specific criteria, as well as cleaning out (unfollowing) those spam accounts, and deleting any spam (unwanted) Direct Messages (DMs) that you might receive.  Don’t risk losing active, valid followers by using a validation service, adding unnecessary steps to what should be a simple ‘Follow’ process.

DO have a customized Twitter background that helps make you more recognizable.

Standard twitter backgrounds only offer so much variety, and say next-to-nothing about YOU personally. If you are a business, everything you are doing online is about branding.  Branding is the are of making your business recognizable everywhere it is found on the web.  There are lots of ways to make your Twitter background stand out from the crowd. There are some customizable features within Twitter itself, but there are also MANY free Twitter background sites available online.

At the very least, select a color scheme that matches your business logo and/or profile picture.  Additionally, your Twitter background can be made specifically for your business, and it can be made to match your website or local business location.  Social Media Managers can build (or have their partners build) customized backgrounds for Twitter (and YouTube) that include your business images, logos and colours to match your theme and promote your brand. One way or another, make your twitter profile memorable with a personalized background that makes a statement about you or your business.

DON’T embarrass yourself or your business with your Twitter account.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than walking into the middle of a personal conversation between employees at a business. The same is true for Twitter. Your Twitterstream, or timeline, (i.e., all the tweets you make) is public, and every follower you have will potentially see your tweets, no matter what the subject is, or who the intended recipient is. You might be talking to one particular tweeter, but unless that conversation is happening via Direct Messages (DMs) every one of your followers will see the conversation. Not only that, every tweet you make has the potential to be RE-tweeted (i.e, copied and sent out again) by any and all of your followers to their followers, and by their followers, and so on… If you are sharing information of a personal nature from your business twitter, it can be spread a long way and possibly be a poor representation of your business to a much larger extent than you ever expected.

You can share casual personal information, but stay away from private information, especially on a business account. You may also decide that your business twitter account will be exclusively business, in which case no personal information would be shared there, and interactions, while still warm and personable, will only pertain to business matters. A Social Media Manager can help to maintain your voice and desired level of person-ability while interacting with your Twitter followers, without causing embarrassment or harm to your business reputation.  Twitter is a very public venue for sharing information with potentially thousands of people, so choose your tweeting topics carefully so as not to embarrass yourself or your business.

 

Twitter BirdIf you’re just starting to look at joining the rush of Twitter, or you’ve gotten started with your Twitter account but are a little lost on what to do next, or even if you’ve been tweeting for a while, make sure you consider these do’s and don’ts. By DOing these few things and NOT doing these “Don’t” things, you can improve your Twitter presence and your increase your effectiveness on this social media outlet.  It’s never too late to put these tips into practice on your own Twitter account. Take action today, and if you need assistance with profile set-up or management, on any or all of the social media outlets, I’m available to put those things into place for you!

 

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