9 Tips to Starting Out on Twitter

This post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog

The Pope is opening a Twitter accountThe news is out: Pope Benedict is set to get his own official, verified Twitter account by the end of the year. If the Pope is Tweeting, why can't you? If you're not signed up or actively using Twitter to engage, inform and provide value to your followers, it's time to start. That's why we're providing tips to help you (and the Pope) before you even hit the Tweet button.

1. Be transparent

People want to know who's behind the Twitter account. As an organization, give a sense of who's doing the Tweeting, even reveal individual names. If your account represents an individual, state whether that person is behind the Twitter account at all times, some of the time, or none of the time. 

Obama twitter page 

President Obama's Twitter account provides an example of this; when the president Tweets, he signs his initials on the Tweet.

2. Don't be an egg

Egg

Have you seen the default Twitter avatar? It's an egg with a colored background. Leaving this logo as your public avatar is akin to using GeoCities to host your corporate website; it makes you look out of touch. Make your logo something exciting and easily identifiable, and don't be afraid to switch it up. If you fail to take this step, you'll be left with egg on your face (get it?).

3. Give people a reason to follow

It's all about providing content for those who choose to include you in their timelines. Try not to promote yourself too much; instead mix in your own content with value that extends outside your own sales sphere. Study your audience and understand what they're looking for by following you. If you don't know, don't be afraid to ask. People will be happy to help.


4. Respond

Your ability to answer questions on Twitter or respond to positive and negative feedback is crucial. Even if the conversation overwhelms your social media team (if you have one), it is still important to respond just to let people know that you are listening. Most Twitter users understand that you won't be able to get to every Tweet, but you can't be accused of turning a deaf ear upon your followers if you get back to some. Get a playbook in place to help with this.


5. Find a tool to monitor and publish Tweets

Twitter.com has a number of great native features, and is continuing to get better. But for corporations looking to create a scalable solution for Twitter, the native website won't cut it. Look for tools that help you monitor things people are saying about you on the social network, engage in real-time, schedule Tweets and publish directly from the platform.


6. Learn the lingo

Twitter has its own language that you must learn to look like you belong. Understand what it means to Retweet someone, to @reply to a user and to Direct Message with a follower. There's no better way to draw the ire of your new followers than to act like you "don't understand this whole Twitter thing."


7. Balance out Tweet times

It's important to recognize that Tweets display in chronological order, and your followers may miss something if they aren't monitoring the social network around the time you Tweet. Space out your Tweets throughout the day to make sure most of your followers are seeing your content. After a few months, you can analyze your data to determine the time of day and days of the week that your Tweets get the most traction.


8. Scatter links, images, calls to action

Mix it up. Don't be afraid to test out new ways to Tweet. Within some Tweets, you can provide interesting links, both inside and outside your own corporate website or blog. Other times, you can provide behind-the-scenes images that provide value and access to your followers. And, sparingly, you can use calls to action to get followers to perform a desired action (just don't overdo this one).


9. Don't take yourself too seriously

At the end of the day, Twitter, and all social media, is supposed to be fun. Don't jump into the social network with your serious face on. Instead, try to approach Twitter with a combination of information, humor, creativity and a bit of self-deprecation and watch your followers truly enjoy your presence. We hope you (and the Pope) find these tips helpful. Consider hitting that Tweet button and sharing this post. It would make for a great Tweet!  

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