14 tips on how to make the most of Twitter

Navigating the world of Twitter can be like trying to replicate that “Strictly” move after your nightly bottle glass of wine. Which is to say, at times challenging. Riding to the rescue is Karin of Cafe Bebe, dispensing her hardwon tips on Twitter Etiquette and Enjoying Your Twitter Experience. Over to Karin:

Back in March of 2009, I joined Twitter as it seemed to be “the thing to do.” Everyone was on Twitter, it seemed. Ashton Kutcher was posting pictures of Demi Moore, earthshattering personal news was being announced there and I felt that maybe I was missing out on something.

After signing up for a Twitter account, I sat and watched and watched and watched. I believe the appropriate term would be “lurking.” I didn’t know how to join the conversation. I didn’t know what people were talking about. What was an “RT?” And then there was something called Tweetdeck?

I wish that I could have had a tutorial on Twitter before diving in head first. It’s a bit daunting but once you know what to do, it can bring you a great surge in traffic, fill those down moments and open up your world to a whole new group of people.

There are some tips that will make Twitter a more enjoyable place for you, Twitter etiquette if you will. There are also quite a few danger areas which, when you’re aware of them, will make your Twitter journey much more pleasant. Let’s start with “Tw-etiquette!”

1.   A great recommendation is that when people follow you, it’s considered polite to follow them back, however, this is not an obligation. If you want to have several hundred “tweeps” in your timeline, you may want to be somewhat selective about whom you follow. Incorporating lists and grouping your Twitter friends (eg, professional contacts, other bloggers, news) into your Twitter account can aid you a great deal in sorting those you follow to make viewing more feasible.

2.    RTs (Re-Tweets)- If you have found a link or post or a tweet useful/funny/inspirational/helpful, it’s considered good form to re-tweet that person’s tweet. If someone has RT’d one of your tweets, it is polite to thank them for the RT. If you are writing a tweet and are asking for it to be RT’d (“Plz RT”) do your best to leave approximately 20 characters in that tweet. This makes RT-ing easier for other Twitter users and will eliminate the need to edit a RT.

3.    Use a good link shortener! When Tweeting links to posts or other media, use a good link shortener like bit.ly or ow.ly (you can create free accounts to do so) which will shorten your links to a manageable size. On smart phone applications, many offer an opportunity to shorten a link so investigate your options on your smart phone app.

4.    When creating your profile, be as succinct as possible in order to communicate who you are and what you’re all about. Be sure to include a link to your blog or site which will help future followers to know more about you and encourage them to follow you.

5.    Following hashtags (#ff, #xfactor, #scd) during television shows and for trending topics will show you the power of Twitter. It can be really entertaining to follow along with your favourite show and will open you up to possible Tweeps worth following. It will really get you “stuck in.”

6.    As your mother and grandmother would say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Some MPs and celebrities are learning this the hard way. Be yourself and jump right in. It takes a little while to build up a “conversation” and followers, but as long as you are true to yourself, you will find yourself as addicted as the next person in no time!

In addition to Twitter Etiquette, there are quite a few Pet Peeves or Irritations that were communicated to me in a discussion on British Mummy Bloggers. There are definitely some things that just should NOT be done on Twitter. Here are just a few:

7.    Lurking without interaction has to be one of the top Twitter Pet Peeves. You won’t feel integrated into the conversation and no one will know much of anything about you which won’t gain you any followers. There’s nothing wrong with watching and learning from the beginning but the sooner you get yourself “stuck in” the sooner you’ll feel a part of the community.

8.    There are Twitter users who utilise Twitter only for posting links and promoting events without much interaction. Automated Tweets which churn out marketing information are not terribly well-received in the blogging community. Establishing a rapport with followers and lurkers alike aids you in promoting your blog and efforts. It’s better to personalise your tweets instead of turning out machine-generated ones.

9.    It’s reasonable to promote a post 2-4 times a day to catch different audiences but repeatedly forcing your posts on followers can become annoying.

10.    Passive-aggressive tweets can definitely turn off those around you and potentially lose you followers. If you have issues with another Twitter user/friend consider using non-public methods, like DMs or personal emails, to air your grievances. Don’t bring others into the argument and don’t join in when you see something else occurring.

11.    Mass #ff’s can be off-putting. Instead, personalise any Follow Forwards and select certain members who have either particularly impressed you over the week or who have been great conversationalists. RT-ing a mass #ff is not the best method to gaining new followers.

12.    Twitter can be a very modern and harsh place to frequent but manners and politeness are still welcome. Thank others for RT-ing or for Follow Fridays. Your thanks will be appreciated.

13.    There are some Twitter members who will follow you and unfollow you within 24 hours if you don’t follow them back. This is a pet peeve of many Twitter members. It’s not mandatory to follow someone back but don’t be surprised or offended when new followers suddenly flit away. Many of them are just trying to promote their product or service so it isn’t personal for them. Decide how many people you wish to follow and stick to your personal guidelines or you may find yourself with followers you don’t even know or interact with.

14.    It’s generally considered poor form to beg and plead for products and services on Twitter. It’s one thing to joke about your washing machine breaking down or your centuries old laptop churning away but an entirely different thing to repeatedly beg for products and services to be donated to you for “review”. Try not to sully your reputation by appearing too needy on Twitter. You just never know what that might bring you!

Twitter is an amazing tool for promotion of your blog and for building a supportive community around you. It can be addictive, frustrating and time consuming but it is definitely worth the time you decide to put in it. Jump right in and start the conversation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

– Karin from Cafe Bebe

@Cafebebe

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About Jennifer Howze

Jennifer Howze is the Creative Director and co-founder of BritMums. She blogs about family travel at Jenography.net, tweets at @JHowze and Instagrams at @JHowze. Previously, she wrote the Alpha Mummy blog at The Times and as a journalist has contributed to The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel, CNN.com, Allure, SELF and Premiere, among others. She won The Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for a health article in Seventeen magazine.

4 Comments

  1. 24 November 2010 / 16:01

    One question – (being a newbie) I am being followed by companies who clearly know nothing about me. I haven’t touched a diaper for about 5 years and don’t blog about them, so why such companies choose to follow me is beyond me. I’m not following them back and don’t intend to. Is this a huge no-no?

  2. 24 November 2010 / 16:59

    I’m of the mind that it’s fine for companies to follow me but I don’t follow back the ones that don’t have anything to do with my focus.

  3. 25 November 2010 / 07:11

    Great post Karin. I would also stress that Twitter, like all social media, is about a conversation. It is a two-way street.

  4. 02 February 2011 / 06:32

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