Having had a Twitter account for over five years, I thought it might be useful for those of you yet to embrace this channel of communication to share my top ten tips!
1. Define how you wish to use Twitter. It is an engagement tool rather than a broadcast forum. I have found Twitter to be a useful tool to find and share (re-tweet) information, to meet (follow) other people who have shared interests, to ask questions and provide answers to questions. People and their businesses often have the opportunity to become or be seen to be the experts in a particular field by using this medium.
2. Be clear on your own Twitter strategy or that of your business - Whilst Twitter has a global reach, it is very often what is going on in one's immediate locality that has interest for many followers. There are well-documented examples of businesses thriving through engaging with their customers and potential customers through Twitter. Whatever you decide, be clear from the outset how you plan to use Twitter.
3. Twitter isn't a replacement for advertising - it is another channel of communication - and if using for business purposes, be clear whether your target markets are already using this medium - if not, perhaps this isn't the appropriate tool for your market!
4. Be yourself - Twitter is often about one to one relationships - people will be curious about who you are, what you do and you will find that you do form "virtual" relationships with other Tweeters. You may find yourself meeting with, doing business with, or eating cake with people you meet on Twitter, eventually.
5. It's not about numbers - frequently I see postings from people quoting the number of followers they have. It's not a race, competition or a numbers game. Does anyone go around boasting how many personal friends they have? Thought not. Nurture the followers you do have! It's about the quality of relationships you build and the importance of your followers to your business that matters.
6. Take note of Twitter etiquette - too much to quote here but do make sure that you have a fully completed biography to let people know a little about you. People generally are put off by direct selling and certainly "spam" messages. Don't bother with automated acknowledgements when people start to follow you - they are insincere and pointless. Don't be frightened to block and report spam. Only post information on Twitter you are happy to see on the public domain - I have seen some great dialogues on Twitter that should have probably been conducted in private!
7. Form a Twitter habit - try to ensure that you post on a regular basis - sometimes it can be difficult (no reception, little to report, illness) - but people with whom you have engaged, like to hear from you regularly. Timed tweets might be appropriate to plan for - but responses still need to be managed.
8. Have an open mind - don't dismiss Twitter immediately - it takes time to engage, form relationships with people, understand the terminology that is being used and build a sound following.
9. Explore - there are many tools which can help to make Twitter even better such as Hootsuite for managing your Twitter feeds. Don't be afraid to ask for help from someone already using Twitter - sometimes there aren't obvious answers!
10. Enjoy! Twitter is a wonderful networking resource. I have met great people through Twitter and then, IRL, (in real life) when perhaps I would not have met them ordinarily. There are some genuinely funny, gifted and fascinating people tweeting - it's remarkable how much can be communicated in 140 characters!