Twitter: Best Practices

Engage: Like all social media communications, Twitter is not a platform for one-way messaging. It’s an online conversation. If someone direct messages you, respond. Give props to someone citing their handle, (i.e., @Colleen24hrco awesome talk yesterday! when’s your next conference?). Think of it as organic and natural. Too much promotion or “talking at” people compromises the possibilities of building relationships and pushing out effective messaging.

Monitor: Use Twitter to audit or monitor national trends or specific topics. In the “Discover” section, search terms you’re interested in. Results will yield people and hash tags relating to the topic. Read tweets from those you follow for valuable psychographic and demographic information on trends, business needs, human behavior, news developments, and much more. Don’t just engage on Twitter — monitor. Create specific lists to properly aggregate content and make it more managable to keep track of the info that means the most to you and your business. Twitter’s sidebar also features trending topics — pick one based on geographical location most relevant to you.

Reciprocate: Build relationships on Twitter by following, retweeting, and replying. Are you a non-profit with a big funder? Follow them and retweet their info — they’ll appreciate the efforts to spread their messages. Use the hash tag #FF on Fridays (short for Follow back Fridays) and recommend Twitter friends to follow to your audience (i.e., “Hey Everyone! Follow @Georgetown @AmericanU and @UNCTarHeels for some great info on the latest in high education trends #FF) The goal is to accumulate goodwill.

Tweet Consistently: Best practice is twice a day, unless you are in the news world and constant updates is in line with your industry. Too much tweeting means you’re not tailoring your content enough, and will saturate your audience who will eventually tune out. Quality over quantity. Leaving your account dormant for weeks will position you as disengaged or out of touch.

Follow Relevant People/Orgs: Follow the right people. On your personal account, follow whatever strikes your fancy. But if you’re a specific organization, try to mainly follow those relevant to you for effective outreach and targeted relationship building.

Weed out Spam: Does 50,000 followers sound nice? Sure. But if half of them are spam or “porn bots”, is that as nice? No. The best anecdote is from Pepsi. After accumulating thousands of followers, it was discovered that half of them were employees — messaging or promotion was not being directed to a buying public. Go in everyday and block those spammers.

Hash tag: This is how to position yourself as relevant to the conversation, strategic about gathering followers and able to influence debate. Check before you hash tag in the “Discover” section that the hash tag you’d like to use is already active. You can create one, but it’s always best to use one already made (i.e., Today, the 11th circuit in Georgia refused to render an opinion on immigration policy #immigration #SB1070 #HB56 #HB87).

Happy Tweeting!