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twitter dos and donts Overseeing three Twitter accounts has given me quite a bit of insight about our favorite 140 character platform better known as Twitter. I love it. I hate it. I love it. I hate it. I go through the motions with it. However, whatever my feeling is at the time, the power of this social media medium cannot be denied. I mean, there are about 307 million monthly active users. That's a whole lot of communicating.

A good percentage of those users are trying to build their brands and businesses by connecting and creating communities within the crowd of Tweeters. But many are feeling lost in the tweeting shuffle, and are not sure where to begin or if what they're doing is the right strategy. Well, allow me pop your tweet bubble with a dose of reality before we get into the do's and don'ts. Some accounts just stick faster than others. Some people without much effort (but with a great brand) have many followers. Then there are the marketing geniuses with mediocre brands (just keeping it real), who have mastered the art of tweeting and community building by using the old consistency method. 

There are many formulas out there and services that will guarantee followers. Some say that buying a few followers will at the very least kick off the interest. I can't say. I've never done it. I pretty much stick to the old fashion way. I would rather have a community of people who is engaged. 

If you agree, the following is a list of my do's and don'ts for creating a following on Twitter. It's a long post, so grab a coffee!

Dos and Don'ts of Twitter

Do's ...

Be personal but know your limits - Be the best version of yourself on Twitter. Don't air your issues if you're trying to build a brand. I once followed a talented designer who went off on her (I guess) boyfriend on Twitter with a stream of passive-aggressive indirect comments, which led to an immediate unfollow. 

Reciprocate, engage and interact - With so many tweets going out every second, give your followers a little TLC when they acknowledge something about your brand. Thank anyone who sends an RT or #FF over your way. If you have way too many followers to always reply then it's understandable if you can't engage all the time. But then again, if you have over 100k followers, you would not be reading this post, amirite? 

Use DMs correctly - It's your chance to be yourself and not an automated message. If you have one, please remove it. No one likes it. And I say that with love. No one likes it. 

Have a plan - Growing your brand online requires a lot of tweeting throughout the day. I believe the average tweet may have something like 8 minutes to be seen depending on how many people your follower is following. If you have other things to do (and I'm sure you do), use a scheduler to send out your posts or product info. Think of creative ways to rewrite headlines for the same post. Have fun with it so you won't sound like, well, your tweets are scheduled. 

Practice headline writing - Your tweets are a great opportunity to showcase your service. People want to learn. They want tips. They want value. They want to be in the know. Do you have the answers? Position your tweets from that place of authority. Got a great rice pudding recipe? Great! Does it take less than 30 minutest to make? Did you use a non-traditional ingredient? Is it perfect for the holidays? Share why your version of something is valuable to others. 

Add photos and/or videos - Share your behind the scenes hustle moments, a great event, a photo linking to your blog, a quick video. Build your audience in a variety of ways. Some are more visual. Some love to watch videos. Create a dynamic conversation on Twitter. Go beyond 14o characters. 

Keep it short - Really, Rachel? It's already 140 characters. How much shorter can it be? 115 and less will actually raise your probability of an RT. 

Tweet often - That's where that scheduler comes in handy. I know bloggers who have tweets going out every hour. Yep, every hour on the hour. They also share the content of others. I've seen their numbers soar in a short amount of time. If you really want numbers on Twitter, you have to treat it like part of your business. There are people all over the world who need to know about you. Go ahead and tweet. Oh, and remember to share things that fall in line with your brand. Sharing is caring, after all. 

Be yourself - Are you funny? Sassy? Chill? Let your personality show. There are so many bait tweets in Twitter. Let's make it human again!

Follow like-minded people - In a sea of millions of accounts, where do you find these people, right? I started using Tweepi and I'm kind of loving it. They offer great tips for using the service, but you can basically find the people who you may want to hob-knob with by typing in a few keywords. It also helps you organize lists and manage your different communities. 

A meaningful bio - It's great that you love tacos and won a potato sack contest when you were 5 but if you're building a business, keep your bio professional. I know, that's no fun. But try to find the balance between being your fun-loving self while thinking like a boss. 

A great headshot - If it were up to me I would have a super minimalist, artsy photo of my shadow or something very vague. But that's not *really* my brand. As a social media professional, it's important that I show my face. People like making the human connection to blogs and brands. Make sure your photo is clear and that it looks like you. Part of growing a business online means you will eventually need to make those connections off-line as well. It's always great to put a face to a brand/blog. 

Share interesting content - But my content is interesting, Rachel. Twitter is great for promoting your work, but it's also a good idea to switch it up too. Share original content that goes with your brand and that interests you. You're an interesting and multi-dimensional person, why not share that? You can easily find great articles on Flipboard to share on the spot. It connects easily with Buffer as well. 

Ask questions - Let people know that you value their thoughts and input. We all want to feel validated, right? Put the feels out there once in a while. 

Unfollow people - Too much noise on your Twitter feed will drain you. It will suck the inspiration to tweet right out of you, I promise. If they don't provide value, unfollow.  Yes, you can unfollow. It is quite OK. And you don't have to follow just because someone followed you! Who made up that rule anyway? Follow people who share content you are interested in.

Don'ts ...

Spam - Don't tag 100 people in a row asking them to follow you or to view a link. It's spammy. 

Don't waste your precious time - Have fun but keep your limits too. You have an empire to build and a story to share. Organize your Twitter time like you would any other work task. Every minute you spend on there is more valuable than money. It costs you your time, and that's something you can never have back. Be smart about your marketing strategies and the social part of social media. 

Forget to add a link to your brand - Add a link to your work in the bio section. Save potential clients or employers from the extra hassle. If you have multiple sites, then consider creating an about.me account where you provide all of you information and links. 

Follow everyone - Do you think that in order to have 100,000 followers, you must follow 99,000 people? Maybe that will happen. But did you earn those followers? Is it an engaged community? Are you even going to pay attention to all the tweets on your feed? Just follow people whose mission interests you.

Worry about your followers - Take the stress of numbers out of your head. Would you rather have an engaged community that values what you say or crowd of people who ignore all your tweets? 

Hashtaggery - Keep your hashtags relevant. You have a limited amount of characters. Don't use it up with hashtags that are not deliberate and strategic. 

Automated DM - I mentioned this above. I have 100 sitting in my work's DM, and I looked at none of them before they got deleted. It's spammy and impersonal. I can't tell you how many people complain about this. Want to say thanks for the follow? Take the time and check out your followers bio or one of their links. Thank them and reference something about them to let them know you checked them out too. Who knows? It could be your future client.

Neglect grammar - It happens to the best of us. I work in social media and always forget words. I'm writing in 140 characters all day, so my brain just fills them in. Make sure you read your tweets before they go out. Read again. Go back, and read again.

Use party pics as a Twitter profile picture - If you're a club promoter or vodka retailer, then OK. Otherwise, stick with a headshot that shows your face.

Constantly sell - Loosen up and tweet for fun once in a while. Everyone is selling on Twitter. It's refreshing to see people being themselves. 

Use profanity - Unless you have the knack for dropping major truth bombs that can allow for the occasional F-bomb, tone down the language. There's a difference between making a 'drop mic' statement and being crass. You don't want to offend readers and clients. 

Worry about people unfollowing - So you lost one or a 100. It happens. Carry on. If you're steadily losing followers, it may be time to re-evaluate your strategy. 

Share too much detail about your personal life - Don't like someone? Call your friend or your mom and vent to them. We have enough negativity in the world. You don't want a potential brand or client to look at your tweets and think you're catty. Whatever finger you point at someone online, two fingers come back at you. Those are your words under your name. Don't tweet anything you wouldn't want your parents, employer/employees, kids or your significant other to read. Every tweet becomes part of the permanent record online. Remember what happened Justine Sacco? Think before you tweet. 

I hope these tips helped. If you have questions, you can leave a comment below or ... catch me on Twitter!