Twitter 201

Moving a little beyond the 101 getting-started-with-Twitter posts about what you might say or why you might want a Twitter account and the practicalities of using it, here are some 201-level Twitter tips I’ve learned along the way managing company and personal accounts.

  • If you manage more than one account, ALWAYS check you’re tweeting from the right account – I still do this after 3 years. Every tweet.
  • Damn-you-autocorrect can also play havoc with your tweets – read before you tweet! “Not sure who you ate – what’s your email address?” isn’t good when you mean “Don’t know who you are …”
  • Check your links!! Especially where you’re reusing a shortened link posted by someone else. The dropped http:// off the front of mycool.url doesn’t always translate well.
  • To give you that split second chance to have a doubt re 1, 2 or 3 above, check how your Twitter app publishes tweets – many of them have a feature to disable submit on click. Means you don’t accidentally hit the return key and prematurely tweet.
  • Learn where your mentions are people! (That’s when someone uses @yourtwittername in their tweet.) It’s especially important when the tweet starts with @yourtwittername because that’s basically a question or comment directed at you so a lot of times it should get a response, or at least be read. If someone doesn’t respond to me when I @mention them I often go look at their Twitter stream, and what do I see? A broadcast list, all tweets from them or RT’s, no responses to people. This is low engagement. Fine if that’s what you’re after but I do find it rather rude to leave @mentions with no response. And on that note – if you start at tweet with @theirtwittername – only people who follow you both them will see it. If you want everyone to see the tweet, start it with some other word, one that doesn’t being with @
  • RT (re-tweet) – think about how this works and how you want the tweet to appear in your stream. Sometimes if it’s important to be associated with the Twitter account that tweeted it, like you got mentioned by a big brand, don’t edit it or fiddle with it, just RT it so that THEIR logo ends up in your stream. Otherwise it’s your face, again.
  • Don’t plagiarize. I realize this isn’t a regulated medium but I recognize my tweets. Passing them off as yours with no reference might make you feel busy and important but it makes me feel used. We’re all trying to build our brand and being seen to follow or read or have an association with a brand might do you just as much good as seeming to have an original thought or comment about something yourself. It’s a doggy-dog retweeing world out there!
  • Be wary of scheduled and automated tweets and make sure you use this as it makes sense for your company. Scheduled tweets can backfire – even if they work, you don’t know what’s gone on in the night when your tweet goes out – if people are having issues with your app or some major news has broken, your ‘yippee vote for us we’re so cool’ tweet doesn’t look good. We’ve all read the stuff about being personal if you want to have a successful brand on social media, so be present to be personal. Clocky or some other timezone calculator is your friend – you can catch your followers in all timezones if you’re smart about it. If you auto-tweet something, perhaps blog posts or status updates, think about how the title or snippet that’s auto-tweeted stands alone. In the case of a blog, your post title in a stream doesn’t have the benefit of the full post or even first paragraph to further explain the title. To increase readership, re-tweeting and engagement, make the title interesting. Mystery and intrigue is good, but you have just a moment to get someone to click on a link so make that title count!
  • What is it with all the # tags? The idea of a hashtag is to build a stream or common topic that people might follow, saving them from following all the people that might be tweeting about the topic. Think of a hashtag as a keyword and build momentum and engagement for something by being consistent. If you’re at an event or conference definitely use the hashtag – again, don’t underestimate the power of your brand popping up in an event stream. #every #other #word in a #tweet isn’t really helpful and is actually #really #hard to #read #imsocoolimadeupaniftyhashtag.


#1 Mel Morris on 08.11.12 at 12:48 am

Catherine. Thank you so much for sharing your invaluable knowledge. I have taken onboard many points. Mel

#2 Helen Matterson on 08.14.12 at 5:05 pm

Thanks for sharing. Refreshing gems of wisdom without social media hype…

#3 OrangeGirl on 08.14.12 at 8:26 pm

Thanks guys – there’s already so much written about Twitter and social media it’s hard to have an original thought so I just thought I’d share my experiences regardless of whether or not they’re the same as others. Glad you found it useful.

Leave a Comment