A running list of Twitter Best Practices

In preparation for my upcoming eSeminar entitled Twitter 101 for Technical Communicators I’m starting a running list of Twitter Best Practices that have worked for me and that I hope will work for you, too. I will continue adding to this list, so please consider following me on Twitter @rjacquez for new updates to this list.  

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  1. Choose your Twitter username wisely

Simply put, the shorter the username, the better. If you haven’t signed up for a Twitter account just head over to http://twitter.com and click “Sign up now.” One of the most important decisions you will make is selecting a username, which will be your very own unique ID on Twitter. In doing so, consider the fact that a Tweet is limited to only 140 characters, so every letter counts. This becomes even more important when someone ReTweets (RT) your Tweets, which will include your original tweet plus your Twitter username, plus RT. Again the shorter your username, the better.

If you already have a Twitter account and want to change your username to a shorter version, just head over to your Twitter account, and in the Account tab, you can change it.  I recently changed my Spanish account from rjacquezEspanol to rjacquezES and it’s already working better for this account.

  1. Upload a Picture of yourself

Nothing says Newbie or Spammer like using the default Twitter picture one gets after signing up for an account. Twitter is about having great conversations and it’s nice to see a picture of the person with whom you are conversing. I highly recommend you upload a picture of yourself, rather than a cartoon or another picture of something other than you, your followers will appreciate it.

  1. Add a More info URL to your profile

This is an important piece of your profile and I recommend that you make this your blog. If you don’t have one, I suggest you join the
blogosphere by starting your own blog.  Your Blog and your Twitter account will go hand in hand because Twitter provides an easy way to add links to your blog posts.

  1. Add a One Line Bio

This is limited to 160 characters, but it’s just as important as uploading a picture of yourself and a URL to your profile, because most people will decided whether to follow you or not based on your Bio.

  1. Add a Background image

Consider your Twitter page your very own personal website and just as a website has a look-and-feel, so should your Twitter page. While Twitter does provide a Design section where you can pick a background image and colors, I recommend that you spend time creating a custom background, which showcases what you are into and what you tweet about. I designed my own Twitter background using a free Photoshop template I downloaded from Rames Studios’ page. There are plenty of free Twitter backgrounds out there, including those from http://www.twitterbackgrounds.com/which are easy to apply to your own page.

  1. Don’t Protect your Tweets

Social Networking sites like Twitter are about sharing, discovering, learning and having great conversations, and thus protecting your Tweets completely defeats the purpose of everything Twitter stands for.

  1. Don’t auto-DM your new Followers

Perhaps this has happened to you, too, you find someone interesting to follow and as soon as you do, you get an unsolicited Direct Message (DM) from the user, with a link to join a group or download something, or worse yet promoting a money-making idea. What a turn off and likely the number one reason to get unfollowed immediately. In my opinion, if your actions on Twitter are respectful and professional and your Tweets bring value to your followers, they will go out of their way to learn more about your products and services.

  1. Always add context when Tweeting URL links

Lately I’ve seen too many tweets containing only a hyperlink, which makes me a bit suspicious and I rarely click the link, and when I see a consistent pattern, I usually unfollow the Twitterer. I feel that it’s common sense (and common courtesy) to explain what you are Tweeting about and what the link you are posting is all about.

Here’s a tip for TweetDeck users: in the Settings dialog box, you can enable “Show preview information for short URLs,” which will do just that before you choose to visit the link.

  1. Make your Tweets ReTweet-friendly

When someone ReTweets your Tweets, they are helping you spread the word by sharing your tweet with their own followers, so the least we can do is to make it easy on the people who are ReTweeting for you. One way of doing this, as suggested in the comment below by
Matthew Bibby, is to make sure you leave plenty of room (perhaps as much as 20 characters) in the original Tweet.

  1. Don’t just Tweet during product launches

I recently Tweeted this and it resonated well with active Twitterers. I see many brands become active on Twitter the week before a product launch in hopes of leveraging the platform for spreading the word. However because they haven’t Tweeted in a while, unfortunately most people have stopped following them by then. Like anything else in life, the key to success on Twitter is consistency! Btw, this can easily apply to conference organizers!

  1. Don’t auto-Tweet DMs

I don’t even know how this is possible, or what services people use to accomplish this, but I’ve seen it done. I think people do this to expose annoying Direct Messages they get from people they are following, but perhaps a better approach would be to unfollow these Tweeps. Remember DMs are messages directly sent to you and thus you should not make them public.  Also remember, the only way someone can send you a Direct Message is if you are following them.

  1. Don’t use Twitter.com to Tweet, use a Desktop Aapp

I was really surprised to read that most people still use Twitter.com to update their status on Twitter and I’m hoping over time more Twitterers discover that using a desktop client provides a much better Twitter experience. To get the most out of Twitter, you should consider using a desktop Twitter client application. My recommendation is TweetDeck, but there are many options out there and Mashable.com has a great list HERE.

  1. More best practices to come…


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3 Responses to A running list of Twitter Best Practices

  1. I would also add to this list . . . if you are retweeting something that you hope others will share, remember to leave at least 20 characters so that the message can be shared without being edited.

  2. Abraham V. says:

    Maybe “Make your tweets GoogleTranslate friendly” could be somehow important. Some clients (like TweetDeck) have GoogleTranslate as a service, if you tweet “modified words” (equivalent to “c-ya” or “goin'”) a person using the translation service won’t be able to get a clear message.

  3. aspirinc says:

    I would also add to this list . . . if you are retweeting something that you hope others will share, remember to leave at least 20 characters so that the message can be shared without being edited.