Twitter has exploded in popularity over the past few years, offering businesses a way to listen to and reach out to their target audiences.
While Twitter was built on a platform of simplicity, it’s by no means an easy marketing tool to grasp. A few misconceptions about how to use Twitter can land your business in a minefield of negativity and bad PR.
For that reason alone, it’s important to be aware of the fundamental “rules” of Twitter etiquette before you dive in. If your brand is already on Twitter, these do’s and don’ts will serve as a handy checklist to ensure your behavior isn’t putting off customers.
1) Do: Listen, Listen, Listen
You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Have you ever been to a party with “that guy” who just won’t stop talking? Even when you try to give your input, he cuts you off or talks over you. Think about how annoying, rude, and off-putting that behavior is. You don’t want to be “that guy” on Twitter or any social network for that matter.
Twitter is a medium where you can push your brand into the open, but that pushing absolutely has limitations and they’re quite low. Beyond avoiding being annoying, Dave Kerpen of Likeable Media told a great story that perfectly highlighted why social listening is superior to constantly pushing your message.
2) Do: Engage Followers (Strategically)
Twitter is a fantastic way to interact with customers, whether past, current, or future. From a business perspective, while engagement may not necessarily be the best end goal, it is an important piece of the “social media ROI pie” that shouldn’t be ignored
So, engagement is key, but is there right and wrong way to go about this on Twitter? Perhaps.
Your primary focus should be engaging people who are members of your target market. For the same reasons you wouldn’t waste time in your office talking to random people on the phone, you shouldn’t waste time talking to random people on Twitter either. That’s not to say you should be rude and ignore people, but it is to say you should mostly seek interaction from people who have an unfulfilled need your business is capable of fulfilling.
3) Don’t: Relentlessly Promote Yourself
Consumers don’t want to be talked at. They want to be treated like people, not numbers. They want to be viewed as humans with needs and emotions. They want to be listened to. And then they want to be presented with a solution that fills a need gap in their life.
If your Twitter timeline consists almost entirely of you yelling about how incredible your business is, you’re doing it wrong. Give first, then you can expect to receive.
4) Do: Frequently Tweet Different Types of Content
There’s nothing more damaging to a Twitter presence than monotony. Sharing links to blog posts is worthwhile, but frequently changing the types of content you tweet will keep your followers much more engaged. With visual content playing a huge role in social media today, it’s imperative that you integrate videos, Instagram, Vine, and other rich content into your tweets.
5) Don’t: Make Long Tweets or Overuse Hashtags
If your message is too long to fit into 140 characters, it’s probably too long for Twitter. Ideally, you should never use all 140 characters, as you decrease the likelihood of people clicking through your tweets.
Hashtags can be a useful tool, but use them sparingly. Regularly including three or more hashtags in your tweets means people will probably start overlooking them, because they tend to look like spam and are harder to read quickly.
6) Do: Provide Feedback and Redirect for Customer Service
Obviously, you’re on Twitter to better connect with your customers, so always take advantage of the opportunity to monitor feedback about your business. Twitter is interactive and people expect a certain level of communication between themselves and the organizations they follow. Like #1 earlier in the post emphasized, seek to first listen, then respond.
When it comes to customer service on social media, there are a few reasons you typically want to encourage the customer to move the issue offline when possible (especially if the situation is negative):
- One, your brand’s reputation is at risk if you keep the issue in the open for everyone to see. One slight misstep can lead to an unnecessary PR disaster.
- Two, competitors can easily swoop in and attempt to offer your displeased customer a better solution.
- Three, the limit of 140 characters on Twitter often makes clearly conveying your position and solution to the problem more difficult than by email or phone.
Redirecting customer service issues from Twitter to a dedicated email address or phone number is your best bet. Of course, this may not always be possible, so you’ll have to adapt to the limitations of solving customer issues on Twitter in some cases.
7) Don’t: Send Automated Direct Messages (DMs) to Everyone
In 2013, you’d think the issue of automated direct messages wouldn’t be common practice. After all the emphasis that has been placed on engagement and humanizing social media, use of auto DMs still seems to be an epidemic.
Sending an identical message to every single person who follows you is the opposite of engagement. It’s annoying. It’s spam. It immediately leaves a bad taste in peoples’ mouths. It ruins the usefulness of DMs that Twitter likely initially envisioned.
Don’t do it.
8) Don’t: Be Private
Twitter is all about sharing information and transparency. Showing off your business practices or behind-the-scenes activities can create a captivating experience for your audience. If you’re launching a new campaign or product soon, drop hints every once in a while to build awareness and excitement. Let people know what’s going on in the office from time to time. Bring other employees into the mix and humanize your business.
Give people a chance to see the “why” behind your business, because that’s ultimately the reason they’ll choose you over a competitor.
9) Do: Have Fun
Twitter doesn’t have to be all business, all the time. This ties in closely with the previous point: consumers enjoy businesses that have a sense of humor and can poke fun at themselves. A great example is the brief funny battle between Old Spice and Taco Bell, which brought both brands lots of attention on Twitter.
@oldspice Is your deodorant made with really old spices?
— TACO BELL (@TacoBell) July 9, 2012
10) Don’t: Neglect Those Who Help You
If someone retweets you, shares your content, or says something great about your business, never hesitate to thank them and return the favor. These people are your biggest champions and the key to your social media success. Always make an effort to put them on a pedestal. Make them feel special and you’re sure to build loyalty.
What Rules of Twitter Etiquette Would You Include?
This definitely isn’t a comprehensive list, so let me know what Twitter etiquette rules would you include in the comments. If you know someone who recently started a Twitter account, whether for personal or business use, share this post with them and save them from making mistakes!
About The Author: Sharon Greenwood works in the marketing and advertising arena. She reviews and writes about marketing companies like ParagonPromotions.com. In her free time she enjoys swimming and spending time with her 2 dogs, Betsy and Ralph.