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25 Ways Not to Look Like a Noob or a Rube on Twitter

Use Twitter CorrectlyMaybe you’ve been using Twitter for a while. Maybe you even feel comfortable and have a few thousand followers. If so, congratulations, you’re on your way. But there are some Twitter pitfalls awaiting the uninformed, and perhaps you have fallen into a few of them already. It may not seem like a big deal, considering the millions of people using Twitter in a million different ways. But if you are using Twitter for your business, you’ll want to pay close attention to this list, because using these principles wisely is a key to getting the type of engagement and attention you want (and not the kind that you don’t want!).

25 Tips to Use Twitter Correctly

  1. Remember how Twitter is different. Twitter is a public forum. Unless you mark your account as private (but seriously, then why be on there?), people can see, share, and talk about what you post. Be ready to engage in conversations that you didn’t ask for! As long as they don’t violate you in some way (think unasked for sexual advances, abhorrent content), or they’re not trolling you,  it’s pretty much anything goes out there. Here’s your analogy. You’re standing at a party, talking to a few people you know. Across the room, you hear someone make a comment about your shoes. Could be “I like them,” could be “I couldn’t wear those,” could be “I wonder where she bought those,” could be “that’s not my style.” Whatever it is, do you stand on your side of the room and yell over to them “Don’t talk about my shoes!!” No. You can engage in a conversation about the shoes if you like, or you can ignore it. But unless you just like making an ass of yourself at parties, you don’t attempt to halt a public conversation.
  2. Develop a voice. If your only purpose on Twitter is to promote your wares, you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you’re just randomly having conversations with anyone who wants to chat, you’ll waste a lot of time. Decide what your voice is on Twitter. For example, the topics I talk about on my Twitter account (@andreahill) include: small business, business ethics, social justice. These topics encompass my business offering and my business purpose. People who don’t like my content won’t follow – and that’s OK, because they probably wouldn’t like my approach to business either. But the people for whom this voice resonates represent potential clients, business affiliates, and people with whom I can learn. Figure out your voice on Twitter, and make sure it’s about more than just what you sell.
  3. Be selective. This goes with #2. Once you know what you talk about on Twitter, you also know what you don’t talk about. This will keep you from giving in to the impulse to retweet every random inspirational quote that floats across your newsfeed.
  4. Be about others. Twitter is a place to share and entertain and inform. It’s supposed to be more “you, you, me” than “me, me, me.” Make sure you are passing along information that benefits your readers, not just yourself. Respond to others, mention others, promote others.
  5. Manage your tweet volume thoughtfully. This one is tricky. You can post 24 or even 50 times in a day. You can’t post 24 or 50 times in 10 minutes. Nobody wants to see an entire column of your tweets in their newsfeed. But if you’re spacing out interesting (not just self-promotional) content throughout each day, that’s perfectly acceptable.
  6. Use hashtags intelligently. Hashtags are a terrific way to track content, participate in events, run fun promotions, and for sharing important community content  (like disaster recovery, weather events, safety concerns, etc.). If you’re going to use a hashtag (and remember, you don’t have to), make sure it is relevant to your post and that people can quickly understand the value or the point.
  7. Use the right number of hashtags. On Twitter, don’t use more than three in one post. Zero is acceptable too! There’s your range.
  8. Use hashtags properly. Don’t use them for #emphasis in the middle of a sentence. Avoid using them for #insidejokes. Put them at the end of your post, where they don’t interfere with reading. Want more information on hashtags? Here’s a blog post to explain more.
  9. Proofread everything! If you don’t know how to use an apostrophe correctly, brush up on your grammar. Use a spell checker before you post. Make sure you look like the professional you are, because they can’t see your outfit, your car, your jewelry, or your office. Your spelling, grammar, the content you share, and your behavior are all they will know you by.
  10. Beware of auto-tweeting. If you have many followers (think 5,000+) and are frequently receiving new followers, you can get away with an auto greeting. BUT. It needs to be non-promotional, and ideally it should promise a follow-back and a note that you’re looking forward to getting to know them. Otherwise, leave auto-tweeting to the predators. You can’t be both authentic and a robot. Want some guidance on whether or not to use auto-greetings? Here’s a blog post on that.
  11. Be participative! The statistics suggest that about 50% of Twitter users are lurkers. A good example of this is my sister-in-law. She uses Twitter for purely personal reasons, and her reasons include reading posts from favorite newscasters and getting all the latest sports news. She doesn’t want to tweet, and lurkers like her don’t have to! But if you’re using Twitter for business, you need to tweet, you need your tweets to be read, and you need to stimulate interest. This means you need to participate.
  12. Remember that Twitter is not just a second-hand store for used Facebook posts! If you are simply auto-posting your Facebook posts to Twitter, don’t waste your time (or ours). You should be using Twitter and Facebook (and Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn) differently, each appropriate to its purpose as a social network. Here’s a free infographic to help you figure it all out.
  13. Have some dignity! Don’t ask, beg, or demand that people retweet you or follow you. If your content is good, you’ll get that type of engagement. Earn it, don’t ask for it.
  14. Keep it clean and easy to read. A well-placed emoticon can enhance your message. A hashtag (or two) at the end of your post can be useful. But for the most part, keep your tweets clean and easy to read as they fly by in the news feed. Don’t clutter them up.
  15. Feed the Ducks, Not the Trolls. There is no such thing as winning an argument on Twitter. Just ignore the trolls, because you will never make them see your point, but they are pretty good at dragging you down to their level.
  16. Be a Duck, Not a Troll.
  17. Thank others for compliments, but don’t retweet them. It’s a bit too much like bragging. Exception? If you can thank them while complimenting them in return. Keep it authentic though!
  18. Be original – all the time! So you posted a link to your latest blog, and only 10 people looked at it. Resist the urge to retweet it over and over again! Instead, wait a week or two, then post a new link with a different headline.  This keeps you from looking unoriginal and repetitive, and it also helps you stick with that “you, you, me” ratio that works best on Twitter.
  19. Move a conversation offline if it looks like it’s going to be a long, two-way discussion. It’s the Twitter equivalent of “get a room.”
  20. Remember the difference between replies and mentions! Here’s how it works. If you want just me to see your tweet, start it with @andreahill. Then the only people who will see it are you, me, and the followers that both you and I share. If you want everyone else to see your post, then don’t start it with an @ sign! You’ll need to put something in front of it. It could be as simple as a period (.@andreahill . . .) or you could use a greeting (Sure @andreahill! . . . ). Remember, one of the things you want to do on Twitter is help gain exposure for others, so if it’s relevant, make sure that more people can see your post!
  21. Diversify. None of us want to follow that person who posts inspirational picture quotes day in and day out. Doesn’t mean we don’t like inspirational picture quotes, but a full diet of them is like a diet consisting entirely of peanut-butter crackers. Share a quote, an article with a link, a relevant thought, a picture with no words . . . mix it up a bit to keep your audience engaged.
  22. Honor the medium! Twitter is about using 140 characters to share a thought or an idea. If you can’t do something in 140 characters, write a blog and post a link. People find it super annoying when you send one message spread out over two or three tweets.
  23. You can hijack hashtags, but be thoughtful. Here are a few examples to share the parameters:
    1. I recently did a campaign called #ThingsYouCanDoInAMinute to promote my One-Minute Blog. I loved it when others jumped in and shared their own #ThingsYouCanDoInAMinute posts – it added diversity and playfulness to the campaign.
    2. Trade organizations often use hashtags to broadcast specific types of content to their industries. When I share content of relevance to those audiences, I’ll use those hashtags to reach them. This is acceptable hashtag hijacking. It doesn’t mean it won’t irritate someone (there’s no way to avoid irritating everyone. People seem to be particularly irritable online), but it’s perfectly legit.
    3. But if that trade organization was promoting an event, and I was promoting a competitive event, I wouldn’t hijack their event hashtag to poach their audience. You can hijack hashtags to complement a campaign and add value. But don’t hijack hashtags to be a predator.
  24. Follow others strategically. You don’t need all the customers – you just need the right customers. This is true on Twitter too. Think about the type of customers you want, and follow those people. Approximately 30% of the people you follow will follow you back, which is a terrific way to build a targeted audience. If you follow anyone and everyone indiscriminately, you may end up with a large, generally useless, audience.
  25. Be interesting! Perhaps the cardinal sin of Twitter is being boring. Remember that every time someone reads your tweet, they have spent precious seconds to do so. Do everything you can to honor that time commitment and make those seconds count.

Andrea Hill


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2 Responses to 25 Ways Not to Look Like a Noob or a Rube on Twitter

  1. Kathy says:

    Your articles are packed with so much relevant and helpful information.
    Thank you!

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