Hamilton, flag burning, voter fraud. There are very few topics President-elect Donald J. Trump hasn’t addressed in his Twitter feed.
Not everyone has been happy with the frequency and tone of his tweets, but few can argue with the results of this off-the-cuff approach during the presidential campaign.
Business leaders might soon see the value in talking more directly to customers, shareholders and other constituents, but be warned: Not everyone can throw caution to the wind. In fact, many regular people have lost jobs and ruined their reputations over a single careless Tweet.Since Twitter is a public forum, those 140 characters can spread like wildfire—for better or for worse.
So, what’s a businessperson or brand manager to do? Follow our 10 commandments of Twitter and tweet with confidence!
1. Think Before You Tweet
Twitter is the great crossroads of the digital world. But too often, we speak only to the like-minded and fail to recognize how something will sound outside of that bubble. If you wouldn’t put it on a billboard, don’t put it on Twitter.
2. Use Proper Grammar
What’s the best way to lose your audience? Pepper your tweets with poor grammar and bad spelling (mixing possessives with contractions is a biggie). Always check spelling and grammar before posting! Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter will won’t let you edit.
3. If You Screw Up, Don’t Say You Were Hacked
Good rule of thumb: Do the opposite of whatever Anthony Weiner does on social media. Blaming your #TwitterFail on a hack is about the lamest thing you can do. Own your mistakes, apologize and move on.
4. Try Not to Offend
Bomb throwers aren’t good for business. Stay positive. Being provocative is one thing—but don’t go out of your way to offend (understanding that you probably will).
5. Verify Your Sources
Fake news is all the rage these days. Retweeting a story with questionable sources and statistics looks bad for brands and business leaders who want to assert thought leadership. Make sure the news is verifiable before sharing with your network.
6. Remember, You Can’t Fight Stupid
If you’ve built up a big enough following, you’ll likely get a fair share of trolls. Engage with your followers but ignore naysayers who aren’t interested in adding value to the conversation.
7. Create a Voice and Stick with It
Twitter is about cultivating an authentic voice that resonates with your audience. You can’t be all things to all people. Home in on several overarching themes and organize your tweeting around those big buckets. If followers come to you for career advice, don’t get sidetracked on pop culture or whatever your kid ate for breakfast. That’s what Facebook is for.
8. Thread Your Tweets
Squeezing too many ideas into one tweet can be confusing. If you have a thought that requires more explanation than the 140-character format permits, consider creating a tweet thread—linking one tweet to another. This allows you to blend nuance with the rapid-fire format of Twitter.
9. Don’t Co-opt Serious News for Promotional Purposes
It’s simple: Never use life-and-death situations to tout your brand. Kenneth Cole made this mistake—not once but twice. His first mistake was tweeting about his spring shoe collection in conjunction with the Egypt uprising. Two years later, he stepped in it again, tweeting: “’Boots on the ground’ or not, let’s not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear” in response to the Syrian civil war.
10. Show Your Followers Some Love
Make sure to respond to followers who tweet at you or mention you in a tweet. It shows that you appreciate their opinion and helps to foster engagement—which is the ultimate goal.
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