Twitter Best Practice Tips Brands and organizations are beginning to see the benefits of Twitter, and are realizing that in the current climate, ignoring social media could mean losing out on a huge scale. Early uptakers have proven that Twitter is a formidable tool when used as part of an effective marketing strategy, with its unprecedented access to real time feedback and huge audiences. Being part of the Twittersphere shows a socially savvy, relevant way of pushing your brand forward into the modern world, and starting an open dialogue with customers. Along with this power to connect, the platform offers immediate social proof. In short, Twitter is invaluable. Companies are starting to use it more and more, and now is the time to make sure you are making the most of this incredible marketing tool, by truly connecting with your audience. The first step is to make a unique, recognizable presence. This can be achieved using the various aspects of a Twitter Profile which can be changed to suit you. Remember to be relevant and interesting at all times, in all areas. Twitter Handle - This is how other Twitter Users will identify you. They will refer to this everytime they talk to you or about you. Keep the handle short, as it will be factored into the 140 characters permitted in tweets. Bio - Tell the world all about yourself in 160 characters or less. Be concise. Tell them who you are, what you offer and why you're important. But don't forget to engage and show personality too! Profile Photo - Your profile pic shows your followers who you are. For individuals this is usually a headshot. For brands, it tends to be a logo. The image will be next to your tweets so that other users can identify you. Header - This is a background photo that sits behind your profile picture. Most images will be automatically resized to fit the dimensions. This is an opportunity to be creative and show the company personality. Background - The backdrop for your profile can be chosen from a preset list of options, or customized to match the brand. Build a Following Without a following, your Twitter account is as good as worthless. Success hinges on having a large, loyal fanbase who will receive your messages. There are various methods for increasing a following. Witty Tweets Twitter is a real-time platform, and this often lures people into the trap of posting incessantly. This is often too much pressure for businesses to handle, and results in boring tweets or repetitive tweets. Conventional wisdom says to tweet often to stay in view, at the top of users' streams, but this only works if you can meet the demand for great content. A boring tweet is a worse offence than irregular posting. In fact, there are many accounts that only post once or twice a year, but are followed all the more intently. Say something when it warrants being said, not for the sake of being heard. Having said that, more tweets is generally better. You need a content strategy in place to ensure that you can post, preferably 3 or more times a day, without losing relevance or interest. Think about mixing content, using images and video as well as text and links, and ranging between educational/informative posts and enticing promotions. Unlike LinkedIn, where educational posts are the most favoured, Twitter users prefer witty, humorous posts and surreal humour. But make sure your posts are in keeping with your brand image and voice. A good rule of thumb to use when creating your content mix is Joe Pulizzi's 4-1-1 Rule. The 4-1-1 Rule states that for every four early stage, light, and informative content offers your provide, you can have one soft-sell offer and one hard-sell offer. Twitter Lists Twitter Lists accomplish two important objectives: they allow you to faze out the noise and listen to the important voices only, while simultaneously curating content for your users. Content often comes from retweets, and this is a good way of ensuring that your messages aren't purely self-promotional. Lists help identify and isolate the accounts that consistently post interesting content from the rest of the crowd. Lists can be public or private, and can serve multiple purposes. You may want a private list of employees or competitors you want to keep an eye on, whereas you may have a public list of accounts worth retweeting from, or otherwise related to your industry or audience. Make your tweets easy to find, read and share by keeping them short and using hashtags. Short tweets are easier to add to when users retweet them. Don't go overboard with hashtags. Usually one is enough. Three is probably the maximum before your tweet begins to look messy. Use them sparingly, and strategically to assist in marketing efforts. You can also use @mentions to bring others into the conversation or make recommendations to your followers. Follow Friday is a good example of when this might be used. Again, overusing this may appear spammy. Twitter Chats A Twitter Chat is a public conversation on Twitter constructed around a unique hashtag. Hashtags allow users to easily follow the conversation and participate, distinguishing themselves from unrelated topics. Advertising and Optimization Twitter offers a highly targeted marketing platform with a huge user base at its disposal. Because of it's open communal nature, marketers have the entire Twittersphere at their fingertips with few restrictions and numerous possibilities. Targeting Marketers can target ads based on a number of factors including keywords, profile and interest data, accounts your followers follow, activity on your website, location or lists from your database. The main types of targeting are: Keyword - These campaigns are highly specific, which leads to more qualified leads or buyers. Interest - Allows you to target followers of a specific @handle, allowing you to reach users with similar interests to that account. Retargeting - Twitter also allows you to target visitors to your website who have not become a lead. This requires the installation of a Twitter pixel on your website. Ad Types Twitter's advertising option now span a variety of objectives, from collecting new contacts to increasing engagement. Regardless of the aims and intentions, ads sit in the home timeline of targeted users. The different types are as follows: Promoted Tweet - Used for lead generation or branding purposes, this ad looks standard but is promoted - raised to the top of a user's stream - for your chosen audience. You are charged on a cost-per-click basis. Website Cards - Uses interesting and engaging images alongside your tweet to promote your product or message. The ad links through to an off-Twitter landing page that the brand creates. This is also charged on a cost-per-click basis. Lead Gen Cards - Similar to the above, but provides a 1-click "offer" feature which provides Twitter account info with form completion. These are used to offer registration for newsletters, entrance to a competition or enroll on a free trial. Optimization ROI on Twitter Ads can be high if done effectively. To ensure maximum reach, you will need to follow these simple guidelines. All Avenues - Don't restrict yourself to just one type of advertising. Use a mixture, learn which works best and give that route the most attention. But don't discard the others entirely. You may be able to reach potential customers who otherwise would have fallen through the cracks. Test - Experiment with different images, content and offers. Alway keep your brand and your audience in mind. Innovate - Keep your content new and refreshing and try to stand out from the crowd. Emphasize your unique selling point, and find a unique way of selling your more common points. Start Tweeting! With all this in mind, it's time to get out there in the Twittersphere and join the conversation, The tips and hints included in this Cheat Sheet will allow you to get to grips with the etiquette and best practices. The rest you can only learn by doing, so get tweeting!