Twitter is one of the most powerful social networks out there. It demands concision and style, but rewards users with followers and publicity. But how do you leverage the Twitter Universe without becoming a featured entry on Tweeting Too Hard? Follow these simple rules to Twitter success:
Have a profile with a link to more information about you.
Twitter’s profiles demand almost as much brevity as updating your feed. You’ve got about 160 characters to express yourself, so get right to the point. Say what you’re about, and why you’re tweeting. Then use the site link in your profile to direct to an “about me” page, such as your professional Facebook profile or your blog, so people can learn more about you.
Link your professional Twitter account to your professional Facebook profile and your blog.
There are plenty of tools available to put your tweets up on Facebook and to condense them into a blog entry which automatically updates. Incorporate this to ensure all of your content streams end up on your Twitter feed. This will also allow more people to find your tweets from multiple platforms and places.
Follow people you’re genuinely interested in.
There’s nothing worse that being followed indiscriminately. Some people use programs to sift Twitter for key words and friend anybody who uses those words. This is a great way for preachers to accidentally follow atheists, Republicans to accidentally follow Democrats…you get the point. It’s worth using these programs to find people to follow, but read their tweets before clicking that follow button.
Similarly only follow the celebrities and other folks you’re interested in: who you follow says what you’re all about.
List the people you like and try and get on their lists.
Lists on Twitter are a spectacular tool for sorting friends and highlighting areas of interest. The more lists you’re on, the better, as it spreads your Twitter profile further out to more people. But you’ll never get listed if you don’t list in return.
So create a few lists, and put people you follow on them. It’s a little flattering, and it’ll make them pay more attention to you.
Reply and Retweet
As always with any social network, how often you reply to other people’s statuses is directly related to how popular you become. People love getting replies, whether it’s a compliment or an invitation to a debate.
Similar to replies, retweets are good Twitter etiquette if used properly. Go through your feed and retweet the absolute best stuff you find once a week or so.
Just don’t become this guy:
Always be active
This goes without saying, but tweet at least once a day. Be sure to set up your cell phone to Tweet, either by sending text messages or with a popular smartphone platform like Tweetie. Make your tweets 80% content-based and 20% personal updates: musings about the field you’re working in, updates about your projects, and thoughts about where they’re going sprinkled with personal notes make you a person, not a spammer.
Keep your updates concise and proper.
If you’re trying to be a professional, you should write like one. Way too many people use “leetspeak” and text-message abbrevations when they shouldn’t. Keep thesaurus.com handy to look for shorter synonyms instead of abbrevating a word unless you have to.
The same is true of grammar. Twitter is a great writing tool because it makes every sentence you type count. Use proper grammar and be concise, and people will respect you for it.
Keep your followers clean
On Twitter, as on the rest of the Internet, there are way too many spambots. While it makes it look like you have a ton of followers, it also makes it look like you’re either interested in Britney porn and Viagra far too much, or are a spambot yourself. So get in there and clean them out.
Similarly, if you find you’ve been followed by a professional organization or a fellow professional, follow them back. It’s just good manners.
Use hashtags carefully
Twitter offers hashtags as a service to its users: click on the hashtag and you’ll find all the other tweets using that hashtag. So tag your tweets as appropriate, but if you don’t have the room to do it, don’t worry about it.
You’ve got all you need: start tweeting!