After two years using Twitter, and spending 6 months writing my Gettin' Geeky with Twitter book, I have pulled together my top Do's and Don'ts for using this powerful social engagement tool. There are so many tips and techniques for Twitter success, but these will be a good foundation for anyone wanting to build their business and manage their brand using this simple social engagement tool.  You may not agree with all of them (and I encourage you to add your tips to this list in the comments), but I have found these the best way to build an authentic Twitter feed with minimal spam and maximum conversation that leads to new friendships, new learning and yes, new sales!

1. DO start by writing down your goals for being on Twitter.  Is it a PR tool for you?  Will you just be a Twatcher (someone who reads tweets but never posts anything)?  Is your goal to connect with potential customers, or send readers to your blog?  Write this goal down and keep it near by.  Without a goal you can easily get sucked into that Twitter trap of sitting for hours and reading everyone's posts and adding useless content to the already polluted stream. Having 1,000 followers is NOT a good goal.  I can show you 1,000 naked spammers if that is your only goal.

2. DO take time to build your nest before starting to fly.  Fill in your profile, giving people some information about you, a link to your website, blog or even LinkedIn profile, so they can see you are a REAL person and learn more if they want.  Show your personality in that 160 character bio-HA!  Most importantly is to be sure to load a good headshot of …YOUR HEAD!  Don't load a picture of your cat or truck or baby picture.  People want to connect with a person, and more importantly, they want to connect with YOU!

3. DO follow SMART people. Start by following writers and thought leaders you enjoy as well as those in your industry that you can share information with.  Don't get caught up in following the “Recommended” twits that Twitter suggests or celebrities, unless this is your industry.  You can sprinkle those in later, but it can derail your focus as you read hundreds of possibly useless posts.

4. DO use a Twitter tool to manage the information flow.  If you start feeling like it is information overload, realize that it is “filter failure.”  Tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite will help you manage the information flow.  You do not need to read every tweet that comes raging by like a fast moving river.  These tools will help you “pool” the tweets from your favorites into different columns or lists that you set up until you have time to read them.

5. DO ReTweet good stuff.  If you are following smart people, you will be getting smart info in your stream.  When you retweet, you let others know you appreciate their information as you provide good content to those following you! (Be sure to use the RT etiquette which is to always give credit to the originator of the content)

6. DO jump in and reply to tweets that you have something to say on.  Show people you are here for the conversations and not just to dump your information.  If you look at your Twitter stream (look at your profile page) you should see a good mix of @replies, RT's and great content from you.

7. DO think before you tweet!  Before hitting send on that nugget of information, ask yourself if it is interesting or helpful. Many of you know my motto is “Be Interesting, Be Helpful, or Be Quiet!”  Sharing personal information about watching television or what you are eating is neither helpful nor interesting.  If you are telling me what movie you're watching, perhaps you can give us a great line from the movie and have people guess, or you can tell us a lesson learned from the movie.

8. DO anticipate people ReTweeting your great nuggets.  If you are posting something that you feel is helpful or interesting enough, then help people ReTweet it by making it short enough for them to fit a short comment and their Twitter name.  To do this you want to aim for 120 character tweets–I know, it's not easy!

9. DO make your links “clickable.” When posting a link to a blog or website, on Twitter, you must start with http:// instead of www.  The http:// makes the link clickable.  The only person who will go through the trouble to copy and paste your link into a browser is your mom, and even she will wait until later to do it.  Bottom line, make it easy for folks!

10. DO add pictures, videos and other fun add-ins to your Twitter stream to allow us to SEE into your world.  Most mobile devices can snap a pic and upload it to Twitter either via MMS messaging (text) or by using an app.  Write a short tweet with the pic and share!

11. DON'T send people an auto Direct Message that tells them you are a cheesy spammer right off the bat.  If you ARE a cheesy spammer, you may not want to tell us to unfollow you so quickly.  When I get a direct message (DM) from a new person I follow and it reads “Thank you for following me, I can help you make thousands of dollars from your Twitter stream. Here is my gift to you: http://ImAnIdiot.com”  I click UNFOLLOW and depending on what the spammer said, I may UNFOLLOW and BLOCK!  Direct messages should be real messages from you to the other person that are not intended for anyone else to see.  Here's more information on how to use the DM feature.

12. Don't protect your tweets.  Go back to your goal-why are you on Twitter?  Unless you are using Twitter for an internal communication tool (in which case, most of these tips will become useless to you), you really shouldn't care about who reads your helpful nuggets.  You do not have to follow them all back.  Remember people who are following your posts will only see what you decide to send out.  Make it easy for people to get your information.  Protecting your tweets is a hassel for others.

13. Don't use the verification services that make followers authenticate themselves to prove they are not spammers.  YOU do the work.  Remember, you don't have to follow everyone back, but don't punish those you were trying to attract in the beginning.

14. Don't send every tweet to Facebook and LinkedIn.  Be selective on what posts go where.  Each of these sites reaches a different audience (for the most part) and requires different information.  There are some nuggets that will go everywhere and some only to one or two of the sites.  Using a tool like TweetDeck or Hootsuite will allow you to pick and choose which sites will receive your post.

15. Don't listen to every so called “expert” telling you her Do's and Don'ts on how to use your Twitter account.  If you jump in and explore you will find the tools you like and a way that works for you.

Add your favorite Do's and Don'ts~

@GinaSchreck

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Showing 11 comments
  • Liz Wheeler
    Reply

    When retweeting, to whom do I give credit–the person I received it from, or the actual first person who tweeted it? Tough with 140 characters to mention all.

    • GinaSchreck
      Reply

      This is always a tricky one– I feel it is important that the originator remains credited no matter what–after that I squeeze in the person I got it from. Any additionals can be dropped in my opinion. Sometimes, if i see that I am also following the originator I will go and RT from them directly. There are many times when something has been RTed too many times and I just enjoy the nugget and move on! This is a great question Liz! Thanks

  • Melissa Taylor
    Reply

    Gina,

    You’re so right on about Twitter! What a great list — also, do spell things correctly. Especially the two words “a lot” which is not one word. Pet peeve.

    Melissa

    • GinaSchreck
      Reply

      Melissa- that is the one thing that is so hard on Twitter since people try to remove letters and squish everything to fit into the 10 limit but it is always important to pause before hitting send and read one more time! I find this especially true when tweeting from my phone since it will auto correct things that are not supposed to be changed and it changes it into some crazy message about “Hippopotamus going to Safeway!” HA!

  • Melissa Taylor
    Reply

    I should say “which are not one word” . . . also, do use good grammar. HA.

  • Anne Egros
    Reply

    Hi Gina,

    Good list. I also read your DM post and I have found a good compromise to avoid being overwhelmed by too much customization. For followers, I send a “Thanks for following” with the list of topics I follow, tweet or RT so it is clear, polite and not spam

    Anne

    • GinaSchreck
      Reply

      Anne that is a great idea–I like the idea of hearing more about you and what you will tweet about! WISE!

  • Dwight Maskew
    Reply

    Do you know if tweets drop off at some point? I’m sure I’ve tweeted more than my profile number count shows.

    • GinaSchreck
      Reply

      That number should be somewhat accurate–although lately Twitter has been having several problems and people are reporting all of their followers suddenly disappear and then reappear, the DMs go away and come back, so I wouldn’t be surprised if your numbers are off and then fixed–if it seems very off.

      What Twitter does drop is the actual tweets–Supposedly you can go back 5,000 tweets (I have never actually tried this since there is no button that just takes you to the beginning). I looked into this when I wanted to see what my first Tweet was…it was too late! 🙁

      So perhaps you just think you tweet more than you actually do…which is the opposite of me! I don’t think I tweet that much –HA!

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