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Twitter Advice, 2014 Edition

So, you’re schooling yourself in Twitter and trying to optimize your feed as much as possible. But some users of the microblogging platform, whether tweeting on behalf of themselves or a company, make mistakes that are only really apparent once it’s a little too late. For this reason, I thought I’d round up some of the poor habits I’ve noticed, made myself, and generally think are worth avoiding.

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Image Credit: Rosaura Ochoa (Flickr)

Subtweeting

Oh dear. Subtweeting, for those of you who aren’t aware, is the act of tweeting about someone without using their username, and thus being able to tweet all sorts of criticism and abuse and so on without any of it appearing in their Mentions feed. This is a risky move, because it looks cowardly if you get caught, and it’s also just generally quite unpleasant.

If you’ve got criticism you are okay with a brand or person seeing, and it’s polite, fire away. If not, best to keep it off the platform people associate with you or your brand.

The Big Issues

Ah, Twitter debates. So easy to get caught up in, and leaving them can be viewed as abandoning your point. It’s frustrating, but if you’re tweeting on behalf of a brand, avoid debates like the plague. No politics, no social issues – stick to things relevant to your company, and if something is in the press that concerns your brand, do not deal with it immediately! Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen made on Twitter are caused by the wrong people manning social accounts and firing out responses to controversial issues that damn their company. If you like hanging out at the job centre, this is for you.

Inconsistent Tones

One of the things I like about successful brand Twitter accounts is that they’ve got a personality. It might not be one person running the account, but there’s an overall voice to it that people can get to know over time and become comfortably familiar with. If that voice isn’t the same from day to day, or worse, tweet to tweet, it’s confusing and odd.

On my own account, I’m formal, sometimes casual, but when you’re working on a brand account, consistency is your best weapon against confusing your followers about whether you’re a formal business account or a company full of people who are happy to have a little fun as they do their jobs.

The Double Act

Following on from my previous point, being able to do the double-act of customer service on your mentions feed, and jokes and interesting links in your general tweets is a really good way to approach Twitter as a brand.

When to Inform, When to Entertain

Don’t be afraid to split accounts, either. If you’re finding that maintaining a consistent tone for a brand account means you’re either constantly too jokey for serious brand announcements or too serious to look friendly, it’s worth setting up dedicated accounts for the smaller stuff so you can focus on two things: making people aware of products and services, and assisting them with their problems. These are the main two targets to hit. Without those, you’re a pointless company account.

Feel free to be informative, too – you don’t have to be funny, though it helps. Link to interesting articles your customers or clients might also find interesting. Feel free to talk about interesting weekend events people can attend when you’re tweeting on Fridays, or tweet about the benefits of coffee on Mondays. Don’t completely forget that you’re still a brand owned by a company that needs to make the money the pay you to sit on Twitter all day.

But be smart. Don’t subtweet, avoid controversy if you can, be consistent in tone, stay helpful, and mix in some facts with your funny pictures of cats. The internet’s a weird place, and people can tell when a brand is making an effort to adapt to it. Some receive it with positivity, some with scepticism, but you don’t want to be that boring, grey corporate account that only ever tweets releases and never replies. Don’t be them. Be the utility belt of social media.