Monday, May 13, 2013

7 Rules of Twitter Etiquette

Twitter is thought of as a very causal forum. It's limited to just 140 characters, leading many users to adopt their own brand of shorthand in order to get their entire thought out into one tweet. Whether you are tweeting as your business or tweeting as yourself, it is still important to follow certain sets of guidelines in order to keep the respect of your followers on the social network.

Knowing the proper Twitter etiquette will save you a lot of embarrassment in the long run. Here are seven rules that you should always follow before you send out your message into the twitterverse:

Your tweet needs to offer value

When you take the time to tweet something, always ask yourself, "Is this something my followers will find valuable?" If you are sending empty-headed thoughts out there, you are not giving them anything of worth to hold onto or pass along to others.

Sure, once upon a time Twitter was the go-to spot for people to tell everyone that they were "chowing down on a #donut" or some other senseless statement. But Twitter has come so far since then, so please don't start dragging it back to those dark days.

Hashtags have limits

#How#Annoying#Is#It#When#You#See#This? People do not want to read a tweet that is composed entirely of hashtags. This point goes right back to the previous point of offering value. Your followers want to read something funny/useful/informative. Try to only include one or two hashtags in your tweets so that people can actually read what you are trying to say.

Follow-backs are not a requirement

Right after you set up your account, you were probably so grateful to get a follower that you felt like it was only polite to follow them right back. This isn't always necessary. If the person who has started following you is influential in the industry or often comments and retweets your posts, then that is a valuable person to add to your lists.

Add your own thoughts to headlines and links

You don't want to be the user whose timeline is filled with nothing but links to articles that you like or find relevant to your business. That can get old with your followers pretty quickly. If you want to share something, always be sure to include a few lines about what you think of it or pull out a meaningful quote that will entice followers to click on it.

Who you follow says a lot about you

They say that the people you associate with are a direct reflection of who you are. The same applies to the people you follow on Twitter. People will look at which users you are following when they are checking out your profile. It helps them decide whether you are truly someone that will be valuable to follow. If you are using Twitter for your business, then you want to be following people who are in the same industry. Potential customers want to know that you are a serious leader in your industry and the people you follow will reflect that.

If you really have a need to follow all of your favorite comedians and C-list celebrities, then consider creating a separate account that gives you the freedom to follow whoever you want without upsetting your professional-minded followers.

Don't get set on autopilot

There are still some users who set up an automatic direct message to go out to anyone that starts following them. It's always the generic "Thanks for following! Can't wait to start connecting!" The truth is that people don't need this message. They can see that it's an automatic message and won't find it valuable.

Try not to set all of your tweeting on autopilot either. There are always instances where it is necessary- you're going to be out of the office for the next week, etc.- but try to make sure your tweets still sound like they are coming straight from you and not robotic.

Don't be negative

Having an opinion and voicing it is okay, but don't turn into a mega-critic about every topic that arises in the media. Don't bash celebrities, politicians, athletes, or everyday people like your customers. Instead, focus on being upbeat and pass along positive messages.

Twitter is still a valuable platform for businesses, and there are still rules of etiquette that should be followed if you want to be a go-to resource on the social network. Have you broken any of the rules to Twitter etiquette?

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