Molly Buccini

Twitter can be a scary place for those who aren’t acquainted with its fast pace and distinct lingo. When should you Retweet, versus RT @mention? Are favorites flattering or faux pas?

Over the past year Twitter has made strides in becoming a better hub for brands. Tweet activity dashboards were released in August giving businesses an easy overview of how content performs and what resonates with their audiences. In September, the network added a “Buy Now” button, giving customers a much quicker path from Tweet to purchase.

The network is prime for brand use … but socially awkward companies will be left out of the good conversations. Deep diving into Twitter can be intimidating at first, because there’s unspoken etiquette that makes unsavvy Twitter users pretty easy to spot (and it No Twitter Egg Avatargoes much further than having an egg as your Twitter avatar. And if you do have the egg image, change it immediately.)

Our clients are probably great at networking in the real world, but we field their questions all the time about the basics of Twitter. We’re narrowing down some of the most popular, tried and true advice we give:

Once you start posting, keep the momentum going

Once you start Tweeting, it’s important to keep a momentum going. It depends on how much content you’re producing, but we’d recommend at the least 1 Tweet per day – and that can advance all the way to 40 Tweets a day.

40 Tweets a day sound like a lot to you? See how this strategy proved successful for our B2B client

Nightmare scenario: A user is interested in interacting with you, but noticed you haven’t sent anything out in a few days, or weeks (or worse, months!). He or she is going to assume your account is stagnant and won’t bother to engage.

Be personable

While it’s important to show up to the party, it’s equally (if not more) important to actually be present.

This is where social automation comes into play. It’s a tool that brands would use to automatically push out new headlines through an RSS feed, so it’d show up across all social channels.

It’s an old-school best practice and users have become savvy enough to recognize when they’re having a conversation with a human versus a robot. (You can check out more about automation and why we decided to ditch it here.)

If you wouldn’t say it on your website, don’t say it on Twitter

Acting unprofessional on Twitter is the same as acting unprofessional IRL (not sure what that means? You’ll want to check out our Twitter dictionary.)

Some clients have asked us about using profanity or rude language on Twitter. The short answer is that it’s completely dependant on your brand’s personal style guide. It’s our general rule of thumb to say: If you wouldn’t say it on your website, you probably shouldn’t say it on social media, either. Your Twitter handle is an extension of your website – you don’t want your audience wondering if your brand has multiple personalities.

Respond promptly – and take a conversation offline if it turns ugly

One of the main reasons brands avoid social media is because they don’t want to face negative feedback in a public setting. The benefits of having a social presence far outweigh this concern – in fact, the vast majority (77 percent) of social company references are neutral. Another 18 percent are completely positive, and only 5 percent contain negative language, according to engagement firm mention. No brand should be held back by fear of the haters!

That said – it’s important to field all brand queries and feedback you receive – whether negative or positive – in a timely fashion. A Lithium Technologies study found that 53 percent of customers expect to hear back from brands within an hour. The consequences of missing this deadline can be dire: 38 percent form a negative opinion of companies that are late to respond.

Remember – you can start the conversation in public, but if it gets heated, your best bet is to bring the discussion offline. If you wouldn’t have a negative conversation in front of all your employees (and potential clients), you wouldn’t want to do this on Twitter either.

Handle negative social feedback with care to build trust

Connect with brands and thought leaders you want to be associated with

Here’s where actually being active on the network is going to come into play. It’s one thing to post your updates onto Twitter and expect people to come to you, but it’s another to engage in social listening, join in on Twitter chats or start conversations with other users.

If you’re just getting started on Twitter, make sure to follow brands and thought leaders you respect. Then, make a point to share, Retweet or favorite a few posts throughout the day. This will get your account on those people and brand’s radar, and chances are they’ll follow and check out your content as well.