Businesses have been using Twitter as an effective tool for lead generation and customer service ever since the service was launched in 2006, and creating an account on the network is now a fundamental necessity for every company hoping to compete in the online world.
It’s fast, direct, and still a fairly free-to-play platform for advertising, hence why every business is being persuaded to join — however, getting started with the network isn’t always straightforward.
Companies without the financial clout to hire an in-house social media management team tend to hand the task of running Twitter to one person. If this individual isn’t quite up to scratch on how to use the network, there’s a genuine risk of social media suicide.
Knowing what to do and not to do can be tricky — but not impossible.
Here’s a quick list of 15 crucial do’s and don’ts for Twitter that can help get every new account off to the best start possible.
1. DO Be Visual
If Twitter themselves write that Tweets with photos get 313% more engagement, then it’s important to pay attention.
Tweeting text updates and interesting links is fine, but when engagement is your goal it’s essential to use the best method possible.
By Tweeting content using a combination of photos and in-house made graphics – made quickly, and easily with Canva.com — engagement and new sales leads are only a Tweet away.
2. DON’T Rely on Automation or Bots
Scheduling Tweets is socially acceptable, but automation and bots that incessantly Tweet, ReTweet, follow, and unfollow users are incredibly dangerous to a professional business account.
They’re often highly spammy, unpredictable, and can compose some of the ugliest Tweets possible.
Leaving a human hand in control of Tweeting, ReTweeting and following is a crucial DO for any business that wishes to appear professional at all times.
3. DO Have The Right Tone and Voice
Having a Twitter account is like having a Press Officer talking about you all the time.
They’re telling everyone about how great the brand is, how essential the products and services are, and how life isn’t the same without them.
Every business Twitter account must have the company voice and tone perfected.
It needs to match the brand and the target demographic. It should be playful if the brand is fun. Serious if the product is for business types.
Spending five minutes creating a simple tone guide for every employee to refer to can avoid communication errors in the future.
The University of Salford, Manchester has a great example of a voice and tone style guide.
4. DON’T Be An Egoist
Sharing content by others is not a weakness.
With the exception of Twitter accounts like Fast Company and newspapers like The Guardian – which have enough dedicated writers and researchers to only share their own content – users typically follow an account because of the interesting things it may Tweet or ReTweet.
Simply sharing the latest discounts or new items on sale isn’t enough.
Sharing well-curated, relevant content gives new followers more of a reason to remain following for long periods of time, and not just during the small cycle of browsing, waiting for a discount, making the purchase, and finally unfollowing for good after the sale.
Using a simple sharing policy such as the Golden Ratio for Social Media of 30% owned content, 60% curated content, and 10% promotional updates can make any account enjoyable enough to continue following.
5. DO Share Exclusive Access
Sharing exclusive news and limited time discounts only to followers of a business’s Twitter account can have a dramatic effect on both engagement and sales leads.
Followers will feel part of an exclusive club even if the follower total numbers in the thousands, purely because they can share the information to their own followers and feel a part of something special.
6. DON’T Be Insensitive
One common tool used by successful Twitter account managers is to tie their Tweets into the latest Trending Topics to expand the reach of their brand and (potentially) boost their following, often to great success.
The trick is to be smart and sensible with how it’s done.
Many companies have fallen foul of adding the top trending hashtag to a Tweet without first researching what it’s about, or by using the hashtag in an insensitive way.
One perfect example happened in 2011 when fashion designer brand Kenneth Cole used the trending #Cairo hashtag in their Tweets which was being used during the Arab Spring protests in Egypt.
Backlash was fierce. Not only had the company made a bad decision, they’d also brought unwanted attention and a boycott by tens of thousands of users.
Being sensible with trending topics is a must. It shouldn’t really need spelling out, but if the trending topic is a tragedy (there is loss of life or emotional distress involved) then any comments you choose to make must be entirely non-promotional. Use language like “our thoughts are with the families…” and “our sympathies to…” to show that you are commenting for selfless reasons.
7. DO Keep It Short
According to TrackSocial, Tweets with 100 characters or less have a higher rate of engagement.
When Twitter users follow more than a few hundred active accounts it’s very easy for the message to be quickly scrolled by, or in the case of split Tweets, sections of the text being missed completely.
Longer Tweets or messages spread across multiple Tweets should be replaced either with a post on the company blog or as a photo of the text.
8.DON’T Follow Everyone
When many new Twitter accounts are started by businesses it’s very easy to fall into a trap of following every account under the sun in the hope that they follow back.
This is not good.
Over the long-term this can have a negative effect on the engagement rating for Tweets once examined via Twitter’s own Analytics dashboard. It will see thousands of followers, but maybe only a handful of likes, therefore resulting in KPI’s that look highly negative to potential future clients who might like to work with the company’s social media team.
9. DO Follow Specific People
Being connected to the right kind of Twitter profiles can have a significant effect if handled correctly.
- Help boost the account within the Twitter Suggested Users algorithm
- Make it easier to see how the competition is performing
- Show followers the charities and initiatives it supports
- Be used as an indicator of which sources the company supports and recommends
Following the key influencers from the community and star customers can also go a long way to show potential future followers that the business listens, values, and engages with what their customers are saying.
10. DON’T Miss An Opportunity
Increasingly, when a customer is unhappy they now take to social media to vent their frustration. Customer service through networks like Twitter are becoming the norm rather than over the phone, and handling it well is important not just for customer retention, but also for customer acquisition.
Through a combined use of Twitter searches and alert systems like Mention.com, it’s now possible to see when someone is upset with their "broken boiler" or when someone is looking for a "local plumber" and be able to jump in to save the day.
Recommendations for DIY “how to’s” can be linked to and — potentially — the user may opt to give that helpful company a call.
11. DO Tweet Frequently
Twitter doesn’t use the same News Feed algorithm that Facebook employs, meaning that once a Tweet is sent it can very quickly get drowned out by other Tweets.
Tweeting two or three times a day makes it incredibly hard for any business to get their message out to the right people.
By Tweeting frequently throughout the day. it’s more likely that your update will appear in a follower’s timeline just as they come online.
Find the best time to tweet with Tweriod.
With the Golden Ratio in place, there’s little fear of constantly Tweeting the same message and irritating the follower.
12. DON’T Forget About Security
One of the most regrettable incidents for any business is getting hacked and locked out of an account whilst someone spams from their account.
Even worse, being locked out of a business social media account as a disgruntled employee live Tweets about being made redundant can be very damaging to a company’s reputation.
Being secure is paramount and can be quickly solved by using a strong password management software system that requires little-to-no prior knowledge of its use.
13. DO Be Strategic With Your URLs
According to SocialBro’s 2014 report:
Tweets from businesses with a URL placed in the middle of the a Tweet are 26% more likely to get ReTweeted than Tweets with the URL placed at the beginning or end of the Tweet.
With URLs leading through to specific landing pages and products, it’s important to get users clicking through to see more and tailoring a Tweet with the link in the right place takes practice.
Using great copy and only a few hashtags, it doesn’t take long to formulate a basic sample text layout for Tweets that can be used repeatedly.
14. DO Use a URL Shortener
Squeezing the message, the best hashtags, and a photo into a 140 character Tweet can seem like an impossibility — especially if a URL is also included.
By using a URL shortener like bit.ly it’s possible to save on characters and make a Tweet look much cleaner.
Instead of sharing our own long post URL:
We can use the much prettier:
Which do you prefer?
Not only do we make our Tweets look easier on the eye, we also get the added advantage of using the internal analytics data of Bitly to see how well the link is performing.
15. DON’T Be Predictable
Rules are fun, but breaking them is exciting.
Sometimes casting aside the rules and these do’s and don’ts to break the mould can have skyrocketing effect for the Tweet, the intended message, and also the number of total followers.
Doing something unpredictable can create a stir. Just be sure to think out the whole process and avoid a potential social media #FAIL.
What’s your top tip for Twitter?
You can find more details on how to get the best out of your social media marketing via our new book Profitable Social Media Marketing: How To Grow Your Business