Twittetiquette: 5 Points To Avoid Alienating Your Twitter Followers

Have you heard about the little blue bird of happiness? No, this one is virtual and it’s called Twitter. This social media tool is growing by leaps and bounds and as of March 2009 had over 8 million users in the US. Is it just a passing fad? I don’t think so. As more business is conducted online people are realizing the power of social media, especially Twitter, to promote their business. To truly succeed with Twitter it’s vitally important you know the etiquette before you jump in and accidently alienate your followers.

What is Twitter?

Twitter has been described as a micro-blog. Users have 140 characters to update their followers about anything and everything. When you follow someone you see their tweets (updates), and when someone follows you they see your tweets. You can use the Twitter search function to search topics, words or people you’d like to follow.

Set-up your profile

Before you start tweeting, do some research on how Twitter works. It can be confusing at first. Twitter has a Twitter 101 article that will walk you through the ins and outs of the site. Then, be sure to set-up a Twitter profile with at least a bio and photo/avatar. You want to humanize your profile so people know who you are and can decide if they want to follow you. Decide what interests you want to highlight that you will tweet about and then start tweeting. I always look at someone’s bio and tweets to see if we have anything in common before I agree to follow someone. No bio? No avatar? No follow.

Build relationships

Be sure to engage with your followers to build relationships. People do business with people not with companies. Comment on your followers’ tweets, retweet any tweets you think are interesting or valuable. (Retweeting means you resend the message out to your followers so the tweet gains even more exposure for the person who wrote it.) However, be careful not to randomly retweet posts that don’t have much value as people will judge you by what you retweet. When people retweet you, thank them in a direct message.

Think like a marketer when tweeting

To be heard on Twitter you need to grab people’s attention. Rather than tweeting “Read my latest blog post” tweet “5 points to keep from alienating your Twitter followers.” That said, don’t feel intimidated. Just start tweeting. Sometimes I’m surprised by what people respond to or retweet. I had a lot of responses when I stated I wanted Lance Armstrong to win the Tour de France and again when I asked for advice on web hosting companies. But, when I asked for social media etiquette tips the Twitterverse was silent even though I see tweets about this topic all the time. So, just start tweeting and see what resonates. And, be yourself, don’t try to be someone you’re not.

Don’t spam!

When talking about your business, do not spam people. That is, don’t send repeated tweets about your business or product or book. It’s like walking into a cocktail party and screaming to everyone you see “buy my product!” How annoying is that? The rule is only 20% of your tweets should be about your business or product. The remaining 80% should be personal or informative; things that allow people to get to know you.

Watch your Ps and Qs

Finally, watch what you say. Just as if you were at an in-person networking or social event avoid controversial topics like religion and politics. It’s simply not worth losing a current or potential client by stating an opinion that could alienate them. Don’t use off-color or demeaning jokes, swear words or anything offensive to others. You’re representing your business so be professional.

Twitter is a powerful tool. If you follow these guidelines and watch your twittetiquette it has the potential to take your business to the next level. I look forward to tweeting with you. My handle is @tandembiker.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>

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