How to Use Twitter Effectively To Build Your Platform

Twitter dos and donts

Getting a loyal following on social media takes time, commitment and consistency: it’s hard work!  Above all else, you need to understand the unstated rules on how to use social media.  These rules are guidelines of sort that professional twitter users, hungry for original content, look for when they first come across your twitter feed.  Those of us looking to build a platform must adhere to these rules to keep our twitter followers interested in what we have to offer.

Recently, I came across a user who joined twitter less than a year ago and had over 9,000 tweets.  In examining some of the tweets, I found nothing of value in the majority of them.  Such a high number of tweets signifies that the user tweets, on average, 24 times per day for 365 consecutive days!  The only logical explanation for having that many tweets from one individual is that the tweets have little or no importance.  There was no useful content and no connection to any discernible topic.  On the other hand, let’s assume for a second that this user has great content.  Sending out that many tweets will desensitize your followers to the information you provide.  In other words too much of a good thing can backfire.  If that is the type of twitter feed you want to have, that is perfectly OK- some people use twitter just for fun; nothing wrong with that! However, if you are looking to build a professional and balanced platform consider some of the suggestions in this post.

In my experience, it is better to tweet something of value once a day than to inundate your followers with trivial observations of nothingness on an hourly basis.  Most people don’t care to know that I had a banana muffin for breakfast or that I saw a lady bug on my windshield.   I like to use a saying derived from a West African adage: “Some of our thoughts belong to a tomb.”  If you want to add value and build trust with your followers, post tweets that are newsworthy, educational or at the very least interesting.  Keep in mind that whenever you tweet, you are publicly putting your seal of approval on the post.

Here are some guidelines to follow on how to use twitter effectively.

DO’s:

  • Define your topics of interest (one or two but no more than a few)
  • Research your listed topics of interest for thought provoking tweets
  • Be specific in your tweets. Talk about a specific issue or topic within your expertise.  For instance, tweet about a specific vendor such as lulu rather than the entire print on demand community.
  • Share and favorite interesting content that meets your criteria for posts
  • Share insightful industry infographics.
  • Tweet stats and industry facts
  • Share appropriate Images (picture of the day, quote of the day, etc…) &
  • Occasionally tweet out instructional and appropriate videos that are on topic, short, concise and professional. This will help give character to your tweeter feed.

DON’TS:

  • Don’t parrot tweet. Parrot tweeting is posting everything you can put your hand on.  Stick to the categories or topics you defined as your area of expertise.  Think of those categories as your mission statement.  This should be consistent with your platform building goals.  Whatever your goals, be consistent in what you deliver to your followers.
  • Avoid being too informal in your tweets. Treat your twitter followers courteously and not like your buddies.  Separate personal from professional accounts.  What you tweet to your friends may not be appropriate for those who read your books – they likely expect a certain level of professionalism.  Ask yourself: “Is this valuable knowledge?”  “Does it fit with my stated areas of expertise?”  “It is appropriate to share? – Your Cancun tequila shot photos should stay within the confines of a small circle of family members and friends.
  • Don’t tweet just for the sake of tweeting. Take the time to find the right content for your twitter followers.
  • Don’t tweet impulsively: stay away from social media while you are emotional: angry at someone, sad, upset or under the influence of a substance. You may write things you regret.  There are public figures who did just that.  Screen grabs of their tweets made it to national media even after they deleted the offending tweet.
  • Don’t “peer pressure tweet”. Try not to share content just because you were asked to share it.  e.: “if you are my friend share this with 50 people.”  If they are truly your friend, they would not put you in such an awkward position.  Instead, do your own due diligence and make the final decision whether or not to re-tweet anything.  Just like regular tweets, re-tweets are visible on your own feed timeline.

Don’t binge tweet.  Tweeting 15 messages one day and going silent for a week is confusing to your followers.  Try to spread your activity more evenly on a consistent timeline and stick to it.

There are, of course, no guarantees when it comes to social media.  But understanding what is expected of you by those who show an interest in your work can make a world of difference!

What are some of your experiences using twitter? I would love to hear your comments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.