ImageOf all the popular social media channels, I’d say that Twitter is probably the most intimidating. But once you learn its unique language of tweets, hashtags, and handles, Twitter opens up a world of opportunities to promote your cause or business. For those of you new to Twitter or new to using it for business, here are eight best practices to help you find your footing.

  • DO NOT use Auto Direct Messages (Auto-DM’s). Generic automated messages such as, “Thanks for following me… please follow me on Facebook” are impersonal as well as a waste of time and opportunity to connect with someone one-on-one. Instead, when someone follows you on Twitter, use personalized DM’s to transition a follower to a business friend.
  • Respond to your followers. Leaving remarks or questions unanswered sends the message that you don’t care about your audience.
  • Vary the times you post.  If you only tweet at the same time every day, chances are you are only reaching the same people. Broaden your audience by varying the times of day that you post. Also keep in mind the hours that are most effective for reaching your target audience.
  • Avoid bulk tweeting. Depending on the patience of your followers, if you’re posting more than two or three times in a row, you may flood their Twitter feed and cause them to tune out.
  • Mix up your posts with an array of tweets. Write authentic content, content with links and without, and retweet (RT) the content of others.  If most of your posts are simply retweets, what would be the motivation for others to follow you? Shared content is an important part of a content strategy, but it can’t be the only piece of the puzzle. You must build your credibility by showing that you know your stuff and can go beyond identifying other people who know it too.
  • Use Follow Friday (#FF) appropriately. It’s become a free-for-all of simply naming accounts and hoping for some new followers. I recommend picking one person to feature in #FF each week. Be sure to tell your followers why they earned your ‘seal of approval.’
  • Keep tweets relevant. Your goal on Twitter should be to build your reputation as an authority in your field and a staple of your community. Keep your posts related to your field of expertise. Don’t be salesy – be conversational – but keep the conversation focused around your expertise.
  • Be conscious of updating multiple accounts using the same content tools. What makes Twitter so unique and popular is its 140-character limit. Beware of tweeting from Facebook, in which the tweet could get cut off and don’t use hashtags in messages that you plan to run on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Any of these a 'pet peeve?'