[Update: this post is continued 4-30-09 with Best Practices for Twitter, part Deux here]
In conversation with the fantastic Kristen Taylor over at the Knight Foundation today, we had a brief discussion of how best to use Twitter. Sure, it varies depending on who's posting and why, but are there some basic best practices out there? I suspect these would vary immensely from person to person and company to company.
And since I've got this morbid curiosity, I created my own list of guidelines (sorry, I can only call them "best practices" for so long before the illustrious Shel Holtz clobbers me with his M Audio and wins CorporateSpeak Bingo). So regardless of why exactly one opted to begin twittering, here is some blanket advice for the new Twitterati:
- Twitter as you have information to provide or questions to ask. Zero to 20 tweets a day is a good start. A hundred tweets an hour is too many (the limit is 165 an hour, I believe).
- Don’t tweet if you don’t have anything to say.
- Establish, choose and use hash tags as appropriate—for example, #green for Tweets focusing on green, sustainable living projects. This makes it easier to track your conversations and retweets (using Twitter Search). If you're live tweeting a conference, be sure to find out and use that conference's hash tag for each related tweet.
- Ask questions and ask for feedback via Twitter to encourage two-way conversation. This will help you to get to know your followers more personally and keep your Twitter feed active and engaging.
- Set up Google alerts for your name, your company name, your competitors' company name, and your favorite hot button topics around your brand. For example, I search not only for "heidi miller" but also "social media," "twitter," "online communities" and "community management." Scan your feed each morning and tweet each article that sparks your interest (or that might spark the interest of your followers). NOTE: you don't have to tweet ALL of them; just the one or two that really grab you.
- If you have a blog, set your blog to repost new blog entries to Twitter. This will only constitute one or two tweets a day, and it will help to drive traffic to your blog.
- If you have a Seesmic account, set it to automatically tweet new video comments. People who aren't active on Seesmic can easily follow the conversation and participate if interested.
- Retweet related articles by your followers that are on topic or that show interesting or controversial insights. (See Jeremiah Owyang’s recent posting on retweeting as social media validation.)
- Reply to any @ requests within an hour, preferably sooner. Respond by the next morning if they appear overnight.
- Reply to DMs with a DM within an hour, preferably sooner. Respond by the next morning if they appear overnight.
- If a follower DMs you and you can't DM back, send an @ message indicating that he needs to follow you so that you can respond via DM.
- If you have a Facebook presence and post fewer than 20 tweets a day, set Twitter to automatically update your status.
The same social media etiquette and civility rules would apply as to blogging, of course--keep discource civil, no personal attacks, use your own human voice, stay on topic (or if you go off-topic, make it entertaining at least). What about you? Would you add anything to this list?