How to Handle Twitter: Some Quick Tips to Help You Engage Better

February 11, 2013

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Originally Published in the Winter 2013 Edition of Local Connections Halifax

by Frances Leary

The new year is here, and Haligonians everywhere started January with a bang and have been running ever since. Running from meeting to meeting, running to catch deadlines, running to networking events...and doing everything they can to keep their business endeavors running successfully in the process.

While most people are warming up to the idea that Social Media can be a huge benefit to business, the truth is that it often seems incredibly overwhelming. So, in an effort to help local business people take a bite out of the social media apple, let’s consider a few “small” Twitter practices that can have a big impact on business…and not always in a good way.

Consider the practice of return following users on Twitter. While there is an unspoken etiquette that most users will follow those who follow them, it is important to consider that the users you follow are a reflection of you. It is also crucial to note that there are many users that follow anyone and everyone in order to “spam” their promotion of one kind or another, including very bold members of the porn industry.

Following someone back makes sense when you are truly interested in who they are and what they offer you and your audience. Following everyone back, while it may save time, could actually compromise you and the message you want to convey to your audience.

Another practice is that of purchasing followers. While this has the ability to increase your numbers significantly, it is important to consider whether the followers you are buying are actually of benefit to you. Are they your audience? Will they engage with you? Perhaps the most important question to ask is this: is it the numbers that matter to you or the quality of your contacts? Often follower lists that are built over time and based on strong, relationship-building communications are more loyal and have a much larger ROI than large numbers of purchased followers.

A third standard practice to consider is using an auto-reply to communicate with all your new followers. This tool sends your new followers a direct message to their Twitter inbox. While on one hand this seems like a great way to recognize and welcome new followers, consider that it may also be very impersonal. As more people get wise to the auto-reply, it may even seem self-serving and more like spam than a true welcome message. There may be other, more personalized alternatives.

While automated Twitter practices can save time, it is important for business people to consider how their audience views those practices and how it impacts the relationships they are using Twitter to build.

The best rule to follow is that if you see it as effective and beneficial when others do it to you and if it feels right to you, then do it. If it doesn’t, then don’t. Consider creating your own set of Twitter “standard practices” that become standard because they work for you.