Twitter has absolutely redefined how companies and organizations communicate with each other, and every individual has their own theory on best practices across this medium.
Twitter is an important tool in any marketer's toolbox, but just because you have a hammer and a saw, it doesn't make you a carpenter. Or in this case, an expert at Twitter.
These "best practices" posts usually bug me, and I never finish reading them, because Twitter is something that you create for yourself. Your feed and whom you follow makes Twitter what it is for you. You and I may use Twitter in totally different ways. And that's awesome. It can be used in whatever way you like, which is exactly how you should approach Twitter.
Unfortunately, many people mimic other best practices they're read about before and will sometimes preach it to others. I'm here to tell you that you should use Twitter in the way that it works best for you, which is all trial and error and finding your voice. Once you find your voice, your audience will find you, and it will take time – but all good things do, right?
If you're taking your image, your business or your organization out into Twitter, there are a few rules of the road to help you increase followers and not quickly drive away others.
Don't tweet multiple times in a row.
If it doesn't fit in 140 characters or less, get a blog. Spamming your Twitter followers is the number one way to find yourself with a one-way ticket to Unfollowsville. Be active, but don't be overbearing.
Don't treat your Twitter stream as an RSS feed for your blog.
You definitely should link your blog when you have new posts, but you need to offer up other content as well. Everyone can throw your blog in Google Reader, so you need to give people a compelling reason to follow you. You're creating remarkable content on your blog, but so are a lot of other people on their own blogs and sites. Share the stories and articles that you come across that you like.
Don't link to something without attribution.
If you found an article because someone else linked it first, give them their due. It builds good web karma, which will always come back to you. Twitter enhanced the retweet method for this reason. They saw that people were sharing content and reposting other people's tweets, and they just came in and made it easier.
Don't abuse the @ symbol or hashtags.
There's no reason to put the @ symbol in front of every word. The @ symbol should only be used when talking to someone, referencing someone to give them credit, or notifying them. If someone says "goin 2 eat sum @tacos," it notifies someone online that he or she is about to become someone's dinner.
The hashtag is a tool to allow for quick searches on a word or topic. You'll see a lot of tweets with the hashtag #sxswi once South by Southwest kicks off later this month. Not every word in a tweet needs a hashtag.
Don't use an avatar that isn't a picture of your face or your company's logo.
Whether you're a person or a professional, you are promoting an image on Twitter, and your Twitter avatar should reflect this. Use something that helps put a face to your company/organization, your tweets and makes you relatable.
Don't use the standard Twitter background.
Dress up your Twitter account. Similar to your avatar, it's a reflection of who you are. Don't be afraid to have the background be fun, imaginable and enjoyable.
Treat Twitter as a real-life conversation.
You'd think this would be obvious, but it's not. Your mother always said if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it, but if you have criticism on something you saw or read, you should definitely express it, but be constructive.
These are a few of the Twitter tricks of the trade that will help you in establishing a successful online presence.
To see some of these best practices in action, visit us on Twitter or follow us @lyntonweb. Good luck out there!