Twitter is a bit like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. I usually get a very divided response when I ask somebody if they’re on Twitter or not. I am a self-confessed Twitter addict, but I still remember setting up my account on there and looking in bewilderment at the unique language it uses, the confusion at #hashtags and the procrastination over how to paraphrase my thoughts into 140 characters. However, I suspect that those who claim to ‘hate’ Twitter have just never learned to use it properly, so I thought I’d share my top tips for learning to love Twitter.

NB I’ve been asked to deliver some training to my business colleagues, so have put together this post with business in mind. However, the same rules apply if you are using Twitter personally.

Don’t measure your success by followers.
Many people consider Twitter the best free broadcast tool in social media, and use it for shameless self-promotion to their hundreds of thousands of followers. However, unless you’re a verified celebrity, this approach generally doesn’t work for average Joe or Jane. Twitter is not just about getting followers. The most effective Twitter users tweet about human interest 80% of the time and only 20% of their tweets are self-promotional.

So … instead, find your niche.
Follow those people who are interested in the same things you are. And then interact with them! If you chat to them, they are likely to tweet back, and follow you back. Then you can gain their trust and get to know them a little better as you build your own brand identity.

Find a community on Twitter that you can get involved in to help you find people to follow: there are many business hours on Twitter now that you can get involved in to introduce yourself to the local community and promote your business (still remembering the 80/20 rule). There are also many other communities you can engage with. The trick is finding them. Twitter is a big place.

Use hashtags to help users looking for tweets about a certain topic, but use them sparingly!

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Be genuine.
Make sure you write a bio about yourself, and include a good photograph (not a drunken selfie or a picture of your toddler). People buy people. The first thing I always do when I get a new follower is have a look at their biography and read their latest tweets to see if I want to see more of them on my timeline. You don’t have to follow everybody who follows you. Use a bit of common sense and quality control, and you’ll have a much more fun Twitter experience.

Secondly, tweet things that are relevant to you or your product, and that you are genuinely interested in. Your passion will shine through, and people are drawn to that.

Engage.
If somebody sends you a tweet, ALWAYS reply. Say thank you if somebody retweets something of yours. If somebody complains, follow them then ask them to send you a direct message so you can resolve their issue. If it’s an insult, try to remedy it, but sometimes it is better just to ignore or block.

Many people use automated social media schedulers to send tweets on their behalf, which is a perfectly acceptable way of managing a Twitter account you don’t want to take over your whole day. However, ensure you do check in regularly to make sure you reply to anybody who has interacted with you. My pet hate is accounts which send automated direct messages to new followers, usually starting with “Hey!” (I’m cringing, now.) And please don’t set up your account to post automatically from your Facebook page. Twitter and Facebook have completely different uses and audiences, so you can’t apply the same rules to both. It’s lazy, and the majority of people don’t like it.

Don’t believe everything you read.
The internet, including Twitter, is full of lots of information. It is a wonderful place. However, this doesn’t mean all of it is true. Don’t blindly retweet things: always research first or seek professional advice. Don’t retweet links without checking out the links yourself first.

Remember that Twitter is a public place.

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Be polite. Never say anything you wouldn’t say out loud. Think before you tweet. Have respect for others: just because you can’t see the person you are tweeting, they still have feelings. Don’t argue – you’ll never win. Never SHOUT WITH CAPITALS. Always credit any photos or quotes you share back to the original person who shared them. And please, please, please, always proof-read your tweets before you send them.

In case I’ve missed anything, I also asked my own Twitter community to share their top tips with me, and here are some of my favourites.

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Lastly, have fun and be yourself! Twitter IS a fun place to be once you know how to use it properly. However, it’s not the real world, so don’t rely on it too much, and make sure you get out and engage for real. Sometimes the two worlds do collide – I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some great people I met through Twitter in the real world too.

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If you’re interested in running, health, fitness, marketing, crafting and the odd ranty tweet, feel free to follow me @shellmoby

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One thought on “Getting the best out of Twitter

  1. Some excellent tips here, made me smile :-). I remember when I first joined twitter and I just didn’t have a clue how to use it! I was so confused. Now I love it and think it’s far better than facebook.

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