To tweet or not to tweet?
Ten Twitter etiquette rules explained by Fatima el Malki, Social Media Manager at Active PR
February 3, 2014 3:12 by kippreport
Many businesses show on their Twitter account how to do it well by taking a multitude of established rules and unspoken rules into consideration, and managing to communicate their brand values, key messages and promotions on this platform in the right way. Which leaves us with the question, how do they manage to do that? Strap on your seatbelts, for we will educate you on the ten imperative etiquette (or, as named by Mashable, Twetiquette) rules you need to be aware of to get noticed on Twitter.
A very common challenge for many on Twitter: “What are appropriate messages to communicate about my brand across this platform?” Picture an average follower on Twitter: A personal account following many brands, such as yours, with an average of 200 to 300 followers. Now picture 50 companies tweeting: “Good morning Dubai! What are you doing today? #Dubai #DxB #MiddleEast”; those are 50 tweets that provide no added value to your brand, nor to the receiver. Choose carefully what type of content you choose to post on Twitter and no need to tweet unnecessary messages that amount to nothing. The days that we used Twitter to report what we ate and whether we were doing our grocery shopping are long gone.
The individual within your organisation in charge of the brand’s Twitter handle should stay objective at all times. Steer clear from personal opinions on religion and politics, as these are always sensitive topics. Companies should not get involved in these discussions online, since it can reflect badly on your brand. In addition to that, DO NOT leverage on tragic news, such as a hurricane, by turning it into a promotion for your products and services. This seems like a very unlikely thing to do, but I’ve seen too many brands making this mistake. Spoiler alert: It did not go down well for them.
People tend to get really confused when it comes to the use of hashtags in tweets, but this shouldn’t be the case. Hashtags are here to make our lives easier, not complicate it. According to Twitter, by putting a hashtag before a relevant keyword or phrase (with no spaces) in your tweet, it will automatically be categorised with tweets containing that same hashtag, helping us to show these tweets more easily in a Twitter search. There’s so much more to discuss about the hashtag, but we’ll leave this for another time.
It can be pretty challenging for SMEs to find the time to post their daily updates on Twitter. One of the biggest faux pas is having your Facebook updates posted on Twitter. It shows that your business does have a presence on one type of social media (mainly Facebook), but is not bothered enough to actually join the conversation on Twitter. Also, the Facebook forwarded Tweets look horrendous, as they’re usually longer than 140 characters and end with the automatic dot-dot-dot and a link to Facebook. This, ladies and gents, reflects badly on your brand.
There’s no room for negativity when it comes down to communicating your brand on Twitter, no one is waiting for a whiney brand that’s negative, sarcastic (in a bad way) and pessimistic. Your brand’s name will be synonymous with negativity, which is an objective that is least desired amongst SMEs.
Remember, Twitter is a conversation
Sure, you can use this platform to promote your products and services, in a nice and subtle way, of course, but let’s not forget what this platform was meant for: Conversation. If you’re not responding to or initiating a conversation with your followers or the accounts you follow, what’s the point of being on there in the first place? Big corporations, such as airline KLM, illustrate how to keep the conversation and engagement going on Twitter. They take the lead in replies back with a guaranteed response rate of less than an hour, building one of the market’s most enviable reputations in customer services. A realistic response rate for an SME should be 24 hours maximum.
The anatomy of a tweet
One of the unspoken rules of Twitter is the anatomy of a tweet. How do you compose a tweet the right way? Start off your tweet with a message, hash tagging only keywords followed by a link, and finally tag in handles that are relevant to the tweet or when referring to another person/brand.
Use proper grammar
It’s always a challenge to transcend a message in less than 140 characters, so once in a while we spot tweets that contain really bad grammar and abbreviations just so it all fits in one single tweet. Using ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ just makes your brand look like a teenage girl and we don’t want that. If the message is too long, you might want to reconsider if Twitter is the suitable platform to put it on.
With only 140 characters, you want every single character to be used wisely per tweet. When adding a link to your tweet, do not use the original link from the web browser. These links are usually 20 to 30 characters long. Instead, shorten your links through websites, such as bit.ly, ow.ly and tiny.cc. Shortening your link will leave you with characters to use for your initial message, instead of the link.
Having people following your handle is fantastic; it shows that there is a group interested in what you have to communicate about your brand. It is common courtesy to follow them back, this will enable you to increase your engagement with your target group as well as increase your numbers of followers.