social media marketing, twitter effectiveness, twitter marketing, online marketing, internet marketingAs with all social media sites there is a learning curve with Twitter. The vast amount of information on the web created to help guide you can be overwhelming and go into more detail than you ever cared to read. I have compiled some of the best pieces of advice I have seen out there on the “proper” way to use Twitter to create a quick and simple list of tips for getting started or improving your Twitter experience.

Before you dive in, take some time to look at other business’s Tweets and profiles. That way you can see for yourself what works and what does not.

Remember, all social media sites have certain forms of privacy settings but keep in mind that it is still the Internet so use your judgment when posting tweets. As I will mention again below, Twitter is not an exact science, so don’t worry if you aren’t following all of the “rules” out there.

These do’s and don’ts are geared towards minimizing the mystery and amplifying easy actionable ideas to move you forward in using Twitter for social media marketing. After sifting through all of the Twitter rules and guidelines out there, here are the five points I think are the most important to consider.

1.  Context and Tone

Do:  Provide context. You may only have 140 characters but you wouldn’t want to offend anyone because your tweet is unclear. Also, make sure that if you are posting a link that you provide a description that makes followers want to click to see what’s after the jump. (If you must bypass the 140 character limit, which to some is a sacred defining feature of Twitter, there is now Deck.ly where you can post longer Tweets.)

Do Not:  Tweet negative posts, especially if you are trying to get a message across. It’s important to stay positive. You never know who will see your Tweet once it’s in cyberspace.

2.  Followers and Following 

Do:  Build Relationships.  It’s all about the people. You want to use language that is friendly to all audiences so that even industry outsiders will find your tweets worth reading. If you are using Twitter for marketing be sure to listen to your clients needs and respond to them. It’s not all about self promotion. By being engaged with your followers and serving them they will in turn help you. 

When Tweeting, prioritize current and future friends and connections making sure to focus most of your energy on the “pedal to the medal” group (see below), particularly to move forward a marketing strategy. This map is a helpful way to think about social networking relationships:

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Do Not:  Feel obligated to follow everyone who follows you. Of course some people may think this is rude, but you want to follow people who have similar interests or goals in mind so you are getting something out of reading their posts. Be strategic about who you follow, but remember there is no formula or algorithm. Just go with your gut feeling on whether the person’s tweets will be interesting to you. 

3.  “Direct Messages”

Do:  Use Direct Messages (now just called a Message) in the form of online text messaging. Direct Messaging allows you to send 1-to-1 personal messages on Twitter and can be a good tool for businesses to acknowledge their followers.

Do Not: Use Direct Messages for product pitches. Just don’t. It will annoy your followers.

4. People vs. Technology

Do:  Think of Twitter as a network where you are on stage. Tweets go back to people you want to connect with, not to a machine.  Twitter is a platform where it is easy to lose your audience because your followers expect each Tweet to be entertaining or interesting to them. This may be an impossible feat, but try to add variety to your Tweets to keep your audience engaged.

Do Not:  Minimize how technology can extend your reach and impact. There are multiple, hidden "back-end" benefits to being on Twitter.  First, being on Twitter will show you're plugged in and convey that you have a certain understanding of technology and how it is useful and high-impact. Using Twitter can drive traffic to your website and support your efforts at online marketing. At SnapHawk we believe that Twitter, when combined with other tools such as Search Engine Marketing (SEM) / Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Blogging, LinkedIn, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), can be a part of a very effective marketing strategy. Often it’s important to mix and match to reach a larger, targeted market and broader audience.

Here is one last thought to leave you with:

5. Have Fun!

Do:  Have fun. Experiment. It can be frustrating and disconcerting to let go of proper grammar and to decide which abbreviations to use to fit your message into 140 characters, but that’s part of the intrigue. Just go for it.

Do Not:  Get too caught up in trying to write the perfect tweet. There is no such thing. Again, have fun. It is social media after all, not brain surgery.


If you do feel so inclined to read the extensive guidelines that are out there on how to use Twitter for social media marketing be sure to follow the embedded links. If you would also like to read further resources on Twitter for personal use, here are some of the better resources I have found.

Resources:

Businessweek - Twitter Do's and Don'ts

Computerworld - Twitter Etiquette: Five Do's and Don'ts

The Big Picture - 10 Twitter Do's and Don'ts