My Top 10 Rules of Twitter Etiquette

3/31/2011 12:09:56 PM
By PSN Staff

by Coleen Sterns Leith

I believe we all have an obligation to give back. That’s why I’m involved with both the CEDIA Professional Services Action Team and CEA’s Home Audio Division Board. When helping these organizations, naturally I migrate to the marketing and promotional tasks. It’s no surprise that both groups are using social media as part of their awareness campaigns.

Just about everyone uses Facebook. They understand how to post, comment, “like” and connect with friends. Twitter, though, becomes an enigma to many. Why bother? Who reads it? Turns out, the influencers do – and their posts can have a long tail. The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University recently summed up the power of Twitter and its two-step communication model. It’s an outlet you can’t ignore.

So, you want to create influence for your product or service? Don’t be intimidated by Twitter. Follow the basic rules of etiquette and your influence will be flowing via 140-character posts in no time.

1. The purpose of Twitter is to educate, engage and entertain. Make sure your tweets are relevant and interesting to read.

2. Remember engage? Auto-responders are not engaging. Take the time to respond directly and personally to followers. Look at their bios and tweets. Decide if you want to follow them. The more you learn about them, the better your conversations.

3. Like with anything, start with a plan. What is the purpose of your existence on Twitter – to raise awareness of your company’s products or learn more about new wines with fellow oenophiles? Stick to your plan and keep the conversation relevant.  

4. Have a social media policy for your company. Let your folks know what is and isn’t appropriate to tweet about. @BrianSolis provided this link to some of the best policies out there.

5. Give credit where credit is due. Use RT@OriginalSender when retweeting items of interest. I recently tweeted a local client story that was picked up nationally in various e-newsletters. Some of the reposts did not give credit to the local Ft. Lauderdale reporter who researched and wrote the piece. Bad form. It will be noticed.

6. Be sure to completely fill out your profile. Let people know who you are and what you want to contribute. Include your website address so you don’t have to send it out on an annoying auto-responder.

7. New to Twitter? Count on making a mistake. Make sure you apologize. Forgive yourself and move on. If you need major damage control, consider this app recommended by Techlicious – 'Last Night Never Happened' from iTunes. Simply enter your Twitter and/or Facebook credentials and pick the time frame you wish to remove evidence of. You can choose anywhere from one hour to 48 hours (for those particularly long benders).

8. Complaints come up via Twitter. Direct mail the sender and work out the issue. In most cases, this small customer service action will lead to a raving fan. Ignoring them is like not answering your telephone. This is how your customer wants to communicate with you.

9. If a customer compliments your product or service, retweet it. This action goes a long way in building a loyal follower.

10. Mother always said, “Mind your manners.” Don’t get involved in a conversation that’s going nowhere. Be polite. Remember the long tail of the Internet. Content, good or bad, can be found.

My last piece of advice – find a Twitter mentor. Ask questions. The Twittersphere is pretty friendly. Scott Moody (@cscottmoody), our director of public relations created a “cheat sheet” to help our clients navigate their way through Twitter. We are happy to help mentor. If you want a copy of Scott’s cheat sheet, tweet or email either of us (scott@marketingmatters.net or coleen@marketingmatters.net).

Coleen Sterns Leith is president and chief techno-geek at Marketing Matters, a communications and design firm specializing in technology, consumer and custom electronics, audio-video, and related industries. As a 20-plus year consumer electronics industry veteran, she is a recognized expert in public relations, business development, and marketing. Coleen and her firm are headquartered in Hollywood, Florida.

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