The 10 commandments of professional Tweeting

Working in an industry where I use Twitter professionally on a daily basis, I’ve seen a lot of things. Some of them have been amazing, innovative, inspiring things – others have made me cringe. And never want to do business with the person responsible. So having made such a bold statement, here are my 10 commandments for using Twitter professionally.

Disclaimer – I’m totally not a hypocrite if I don’t follow my own advice. I’m also not a hypocrite if I say I’m not a hypocrite, when really I’m a bit of a hypocrite.

  1. Don’t start your account, leave it bio-less and start following everyone in sight. It doesn’t work. It makes you look like a spammer and nobody will follow you back. It’s the equivalent of going to a party and running up to everyone, tapping them on the shoulder and running away. No. Instead, try adding a few contacts (preferably people you know in real life to get you started) and start having conversations. Add people slowly, build relationships and they will add you back.
  2. Be real. Even if you’re a business, Twitter is a big conversation. You don’t want to be the one shouting about your company without speaking to anyone. Unless you’re a massive brand, nobody will listen. People will follow you if you’re nice to them. People will look at your products if you offer them value first. And you never know, you might just find value in talking to, rather than AT people.
  3. Complaining about your clients / boss / suppliers on Twitter. It doesn’t look good. Not only do you look petty and small, but your brand looks petty and small. And guess what, if you bitch about your clients online, do you really think people will want to hire you in the future? I certainly wouldn’t hire the wedding planner who complained about her brides. I don’t know the ins and outs of their dispute and I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a Twitter rant – no matter how anonymous. I know it can be seriously frustrating when a work associate is annoying you, but bitch to your friends, not the world.
  4. Getting into petty Twitter spats with other users. Groan. This is the worst. People get really nasty when they have a screen to hide behind. I take what strangers say online with a pinch of salt. I acknowledge that, as I’ve put myself out there with my blog, people may well read it and not like what I have to say. But that’s OK – as long as nobody’s abusive or personal, it’s OK for people to disagree with me. The dignified way to handle criticism online is to politely thank someone for their comment and agree to disagree. Or ignore it. But never, ever go down the route of complaining about it repeatedly or stirring up a drama. It makes you look difficult to work with and it makes people afraid to disagree with you – which they shouldn’t be. It takes two to escalate a petty Twitter argument – don’t get involved.
  5. TMI alert! Every now and then, a personal blog post drawing on life experience is appropriate, timely and bravely offers much-needed wisdom. More often than not, people don’t want to know too much about your personal life. I saw a professional blogger refer to their sex life on Twitter the other day – nobody wants to read that. And in terms of working with that person, I’d say it demonstrates poor judgement. Know where the line is and try not to cross it.
  6. Don’t tweet things you don’t want people to ask you about. If you tweet that you’re “so angry and you’ve had enough” etc etc. people will ask you about it – out of concern, out of curiosity and mainly cause you’ve enticed them in with a leading, dramatic statement. If you’re angry and you’ve had enough, punch a pillow. But think twice before you put it on Twitter if you don’t want a lot of awkward questions.
  7. Help out the little guy. Remember when you started your Twitter venture? Maybe you had a blog? Maybe you were eager to get it out there, to make contact with some of the bigger names. So you tweeted something to them and…. Tumbleweed. I bet you felt like a bit of a loser, right? Probably. You probably also remember and appreciate all the bigger bloggers / industry hacks who gave you the time of day and encouraged you when you were just starting out. And when you became more successful than them, you probably remembered them too. It’s not nice to be a Twitter snob – remember how it felt to start out and give people who are trying hard a break. It may well benefit you one day.
  8. Tweet when you have something to say. Nobody wants to know what you ate for breakfast (unless it was awesome).
  9. Send people who seem like they need it a little inspiration and encouragement – it may come just at the right time.
  10. Finally, don’t say ANYTHING that could destroy your own brand. *Insert common sense here* – if you don’t have any common sense, I’ll give you a common-sense example. If you work in the wedding industry, DON’T SAY YOU HATE WEDDINGS. If you work with children, DON’T SAY YOU HATE CHILDREN. Apply this rule to anything else you might do.

So basically, Tweeps – have fun, promote your brand by all means but support other people’s businesses too. Be nice and considerate to everyone, breathe before you rant and, before you post, think whether or not anyone will want to read! Happy Tweeting.

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