As I was setting up my latest twitter profile @PookyH this week, I found myself subconsciously going through a few ‘best practice’ rules that I’ve developed over the last few months. I thought they would be worth sharing to give anyone new to Twitter a helping hand – I’d also love your feedback as to what could be done better as I consider myself to always be learning.
Before you start, think about your aims
Why are you setting up this account? If you don’t have a clear answer to that question then it’s going to be very difficult for you to create an account that speaks with a consistent voice and provides a great reason for people to follow. Think about what kind of things you’d like to talk about, whether you’re hoping to promote something such as a business or a blog, and the kind of impression you’d like to make with this account. Should it be funny or highbrow business for instance?
Have a consistent on-line presence
If you’re setting up a personal account, or an account where you’re the face of your brand, think about how you’re represented on other social networking sites. You may already have built up a lot of currency on LinkedIn or Facebook for example, but if you use a different name and an unrecognisable avatar on your twitter account then your existing network might not realise it’s you and you’ll have to start all over again with winning them over. Use the same name and the same profile picture and your followers will port across very happily, keen to hear more from someone they’ve already built up a rapport with.
Choose a short, memorable name
Every character counts on twitter. Choose a long name and every time someone tweets you or about you, they’re using up more precious tweet real estate than was really necessary, which reduces the space for their message. It’s amazing how much difference even two or three characters can make. Ideally you want a name that people can remember so they can tweet you without having to search for you every time. For this reason I always try and avoid the use of special characters or numbers. Sometimes it’s unavoidable but I find it useful to think about someone tweeting on a crowded commuter bus from their iPhone… if you’re name is @_N1c3_Gur13 they just might lose the will to live trying to type it in and go and tweet @Andi instead.
Lose the egg and NEVER leave your profile blank
Having an egg as your avatar or leaving your profile blank says one of four things.
- I’m really new here;
- I’m a bot;
- I’m really lazy or
- I don’t take twitter seriously.
All of the above will make people less likely to want to follow you, so make your first move to lose that egg and write your profile. Anything is better than nothing (well, almost anything!)
Make it personal by adding your face
Some people choose to use a logo or brand for their account. This is fine if it’s instantly recognisable or well trusted and the account is based on promoting the business, but most of the time I’d advocate that you stick a picture of your beautiful face up as your avatar. This makes people feel that they’re talking to a real person and really helps you to build relationships. It also has the added bonus of meaning that people will pick you out from the crowd when you attend tweet meets or other social media events. Make sure it’s an up to date picture though or people may struggle looking for the twenty year old you at a tweet-up when in fact you’re 53!
Sell yourself in your profile
You have 160 words to sell yourself in your twitter profile. Use it. This is your shop window, your chance to tell people what you’re all about and give them a reason to follow you. Make it clear what you’re likely to be tweeting about and adopt a similar tone to your tweets – so if your tweets are light hearted, make sure your profile text is too. Your profile can be a key determiner in people choosing whether to follow you or not, take five minutes to write it well.
Include your real name
Even if you’re tweeting from a company account with a logo for your avatar and a brand as your twitter handle, include your real name in your profile. This will be displayed next to all your tweets and will help people to connect with you. I always find it slightly unnerving when people don’t include their name at all – you can’t build a picture of who you’re talking to and you are also less likely to trust someone who won’t put their name to something. You also find yourself wondering whether there’s really a face behind the account at all or whether it’s just a series of interns or similar.
Link back to your blog or website
You have the chance to include a URL in your profile. Use the opportunity. This is your chance to tell people more about yourself than the 160 characters in your profile. Some people choose to set up a specific landing page with more information about themselves or their company. I usually like to link through to a blog, other people will link to the homepage of their personal or company website. You could even send people to your LinkedIn profile or similar. Just make sure you use the opportunity as people who are interested in your profile will often want to learn more.
Tweet before you follow
Even though you’re talking to yourself, send out a tweet or two before you start following anyone. People wondering whether or not to follow you back will often take a look at your profile, and if they see you’ve never tweeted they will be very unmotivated to follow you.
Start as you mean to go on
Whether you’re talking to 3 followers or 3 million followers, use the same approach in your tweeting. Share the same kind and calibre of links and information. The best way to grow your network and become a reliable source of information is to provide really high quality tweets from the word go.
What did I miss? What are your tips?
I’m sure you have more ideas to add – please leave a comment and tell me what I missed or if you disagree with anything. I love a bit of healthy debate! Please take a moment to follow me @PookyH if you liked this post and please share it with your network if you think it would be helpful.