March 14, 2012
Twitter is one of the first places people think about when you say the term Social Media. While Twitter didn’t start the web 2.0 revolution, they did have a pretty big hand in shaping it.
So, what are some guidelines for using Twitter as an Information Worker?
– Do get an image. Using the default “newbie” icon for Twitter is always – ALWAYS – a bad idea. Find an image that is small enough to fit as a user icon, and that represents you, then use it. You can change this on the Profile or Bio page of your account. Remember to respect copyrights and trademarks and only use images you have the right to use.
– Do tweet about all kinds of things. Sticking to just corporate news is a sure way to lose followers fast. Try tweeting about things going on in your life that have some connection to your work. For example, if you make auto parts, talk about the work you’re doing on your own car outside of the parts you sell yourself.
– Do know what you can tweet about. Many companies have strict policies on what can, and cannot be said on Twitter by employees who are affiliated with the company. Make sure you only tweet information that is cleared and ok to send.
– Do remember it’s a conversation. Twitter is not a one-way communication tool, and so you should reply to people, start and participate in conversations, and generally remember that you don’t want to sound like a guy on a street-corner with a megaphone.
– Do keep your ratio. There’s a great temptation to follow a large number of people, but this is not a great strategy. If you’re following hundreds more people than follow you back, most experienced Twitter users will shy away from following you. The reason for this is simple, mass-following is a well-known technique employed by spammers, so you get hit with guilt by association. Start out by following no more than 25 people than follow you back, and stay at that ratio until you’re over 500 followers, then you can open it up to 50.
– Do balance your tweet types. It’s always best to mix up what you’re tweeting. Send some text, some links and some ReTweets (RT’s), and not too many of any one type. Mixing your content types allows others to see that you have a lot to share, that you’re not just spamming press releases, and that you interact with the community.
– Do keep multiple accounts for work and play. If you think you might want to tweet about stuff that isn’t acceptable to your boss, create a different account to do that. This account should clearly state that it is yours, and not affiliated with any particular company at all.
– Do not spam, ever. Though the temptation is to blast your message out to everyone all the time; keep in mind that Twitter is a conversation and make sure you’re not just spamming links to random people.
– Do not engage in “link building behaviors.” This one is critical. Many so-called Twitter “experts” will tell you to follow thousands of people, then unfollow anyone not following you back. That’s bad for a large number of reasons, not the least of which is that you’ll lose any legitimate followers you were going to get and be left with a huge list of followers who don’t listen to your message anyway. Avoid buying followers or using faulty methods like “TeamFollowBack” and the like. Be a real person, the followers will… well… follow.
– Do not DM on Follow. This is a massively annoying habit most so-called experts still engage in. Direct Messaging someone just to say “thanks for following” – or worse, pelting them with your links and ads, is a sure way to get people to immediately UN-follow you. DM’s are typically sent to mobile devices and generate alerts on the desktop, mobile, etc. This is quite annoying to anyone who gets them and finds out that they’re nothing but a “hello” message.
– Do not sweat it if people don’t follow back. You’ll find that some people don’t follow you back. Don’t worry about it. Keep doing all the things you should do, and many folks will follow you. Annoying one person who doesn’t follow you with @Replies is a sure way to ensure that many more people don’t follow you – so it’s counterproductive.
– Do not tweet on behalf of your company. That is, unless you have express permission to do so, of course. Remember that you’re someone who works *for* that company, you are not officially representing that company. Many folks have gotten in a lot of trouble for speaking on behalf of their employers.
– Do not EVER forget that Twitter is public. Even DM’s can become public in some circumstances, and if you’re tweeting for work, then your boss is looking. A lot of headaches due to this can be avoided if you follow the “Do” about keeping work and personal accounts separate.
If you’re looking for a much more comprehensive list of what not to do on Twitter, have a look at Snipe’s page on why you should not be a “Social Media Marketer” – NOTE: it’s not safe for work.