How to Tweet

So you have a business (or even a blog or a hobby) and you started a Twitter account to spread the word, but you don't really 'get' Twitter.

Maybe you have been on Twitter years and years, keep reading, maybe you missed a vital top tip!

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I sometimes follow a business account on Twitter (no names) and realise they really have no idea how to run a social media channel. Things that I assumed were obvious it seems are not. The fact that social media 'gurus' exist is a clue I imagine. But I don't think you need a course costing a fortune to get a handle on the basics and get your twitter skills up to speed.

My Twitter qualifications? None, there is no such thing, I've been on Twitter since 2009 and have 6000 followers. That's it. I like Twitter and I like people. I use Twitter, I see what people like and don't like, I see what works.

Twitter is a 'micro blogging' platform, you have 140 characters (give or take a bit - it now auto shortens your links) to get a point across. You can use 'Twit-Longer, or link to a blog or even tweet a series of numbered tweets to say more, but generally, less is more. Stick to 140

Try and stay grammatically correct (sod's law states anyone online that ever writes that will make a huge grammar error in the next 10 words). Try and use the correct homophone, odd typos can be forgiven but Twitter is less forgiving if you ask it to 'Bare with me' or tell us "Jenny and Tim have lost they're dog"

If you have a business or something to promote, my top tip is to ensure you regularly tweet a retweetable tweet. If all your posts are replies to other people or don't have a general link to your product then when I find you I can't easily share. Twitter now allows a 'pinned tweet' which stays on your front page, use it as a promotional tool, make it a good tweet to share, and change it at least weekly.

I follow loads of great businesses that don't have good shareable tweets, I don't have the time or the inclination to scroll down your feed through 100 tweets saying "glad you liked the food" and "Nice that you popped into our cafe" I want a tweet that says clearly "Rhubarb Cafe - where every day is custard day and then a link, maybe a picture" (I invented the rhubarb cafe, but you get the gist)

Next up, ensure you do also tweet to people, it is nice to thank people for sharing your tweet or for mentioning you, remember to add their @name after another word to properly share the tweet though. "Hey @tattooed_mummy, thanks for loving rhubarb!" is better than "@tattooed_mummy thanks for the follow" and try not to use the same reply for everyone or you look spammy.

On the subject of thanking people for following you .... if anyone ever told you a program that sends an automated direct message (DM - a private message in twitter) was a good idea, they were wrong. If you use any apps that let you send auto DMs turn them off, seriously, some people ignore them, some people are annoyed by them, some people unfollow if they get them, but no one actually likes them. If the first thing someone does after you follow them is send you a private "Thanks for following, follow me on Facebook too!" or "Thanks for following you can buy *** here" it's just a turn off.

Just to clarify - No one likes auto DMs - turn them off!

DMs are private messages, unless you need to keep it private (eg it's a phone number or an address...or ...no let's not go there) then just use an @reply it's public so everyone benefits. (if you are snarking on twitter about this blog post then obviously use DMs to spare my feelings)

Join in with customer banter (*that word has been stolen, I am not referring to idiotic racist or sexist crap, I'm talking about light hearted chatter) So if a customer mentions your product, be chatty back. If you have a fun account people will follow. If all you do is spout links to Facebook they won't. (Example of a fun twitter account, chatty, good links, useful tweets - Mexicana Cheese)

Use hashtags but use them sparingly, more than 2 in a tweet can look ugly. A hashtag is an easily clickable search word, the Rhubarb Cafe might use #cafe in a tweet or #coffee. Hashtags can also be used to make a humourous point #CantbeArsed but remember you can't use punctuation or spaces in a hash tag, so take care, do you want to be the next #SusanAlbumParty? (#SusAnalBumParty)

Don't have a twitter account and never tweet. Even one or two tweets a day is fine, and find time to reply to any @replies with questions or problems. Ignoring people is always bad, doing it publicly on social media is the kiss of death for a business.

Have fun, if you have a business or blog account be careful not to get link-happy. Not every tweet needs a link. Link dumping just looks lazy and boring, even if the links lead to fun things, people use twitter on their phones and on the move, they might have time to smile at 140 character tweet but no time to click through to a blog to read 1000 words. Chat. It's called social media for a reason.

Use a buffer service like Buffer or Twuffer to schedule tweets if you can't be around all day - but be careful what you line up! In the past there have been some pretty sorry cases of inappropriate tweets after serious disasters etc, ensure you can pop in and cancel buffered tweets if necessary! Twitter moves fast.

Follow people back if they follow you, not essential, but it's friendly. Get more followers by following people that mention you, use search to seek out people that like your product/blog type and try to be nice to people that have genuine complaints.

Be nice. No really, be nice, be polite, be helpful, smile. Enjoy your twitter and it will show. You will gain followers via the best method of all, virally and word of mouth.

Did I miss any dos or don'ts? What do you think is a must for a twitter business or blog promotion account? Let me know on Twitter or on my Facebook page