Twitter 102: The Do’s and Don’ts of Twitter Writing

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With just 140 characters at your disposal, you’d think that writing for Twitter would be easy. It’s not. In addition to the basics that we covered in the Twitter 101 guide, there are plenty of other do’s and don’ts to follow.

Some of these rules will become second nature the more that you write for Twitter. But if you want to up the impact of your tweets, or you’re brand new to using Twitter for your brand, they are important to review and keep in mind.

As with all things social media (and life for that matter), your mileage will vary depending on your brand and your approach.

Don’t stuff your tweets full of hashtags.

Hashtags can help you classify information and get in front of the right audience – but just because five or six hashtags might fit your message doesn’t mean that you should use them. Use a maximum of two hashtags per tweet – or it looks spammy. Select a short list of hashtags that fit your brand, and experiment with them to find the one or two that you’ll use consistently.

Do follow the basic rules of English.

You have limited space to work with – but that doesn’t mean that spelling, grammar and punctuation go out the window. Always start out your sentences with a capital letter. “Ur not helping ur brand” by using text speak – spell everything out. Triple check your tweets for incidences of its vs it’s, their and there and other common flubs. Here’s a list to pay attention to – or you can laugh at other people’s mistakes at the Bad Grammar and Bad Spelling Too twitter account.

Don’t publish before you proofread.

Grammar and spelling errors aren’t the only things that can plague your tweets. You could use the wrong word, have a lack of spacing or convey the wrong message. Even though tweets are just a sentence, you have to proofread them as carefully as you would a long essay. As part of your proofreading process, you should also click links that you are sharing to be sure they work.

Do share tweets with links.

Tweets that contain links are statistically proven to be more retweetable. Although conversations on Twitter are important, sharing information from other sources is essential to building your brand and helping your audience.

Don’t publish long unwieldy links.

Each character is precious space that can’t be wasted, so a URL shortening tool is a must. Since I use Buffer for most of my updating, I use buff.ly to shorten urls. If you don’t use a service like Buffer for Twitter, bit.ly is a good all around shortening tool.

Do tag sources of your content.

It’s easy to get swept up in sharing without giving credit where credit is due. But don’t be “that guy”. Tag the sources of your content either with RT @name at the front of a tweet or with @name at the end.

Don’t just share an article heading.

Be creative! Everyone else is sharing the same article with the identical title. Put on your copywriter cap and create something new based on the existing article title.

Do try out images.

In a world of 140 characters, pictures speak a thousand words. The addition of images to Twitter opened up a whole new dimension for marketing. Try cross promoting your Pinterest pins or infographics on Twitter, or just sharing a slice of life from your company.

Don’t be afraid to ask for retweets.

As long as you’re not hounding your audience with RT requests, there’s no reason why you can’t throw in a request or two. Not surprisingly, asking for a RT increases the likelihood that you’ll actually get a retweet. Just don’t go overboard!

Do test multiple headlines.

You’ll improve your Twitter writing over time, and a great way to do that is to track your results on the same article or topic but use different headlines. Look back to your statistics with your URL shortening tool and identify the phrases, words or length that work best for your audience.

What are your do’s and don’ts when it comes to Twitter?

Courtney Ramirez
This monthly Social Media Writing column is contributed by Courtney Ramirez. Courtney is the Director of Content Strategy for Endurance Marketing, where she helps take B2B brands from boring to breakthrough. She creates strategies that helps businesses tell their story, increase their prospects and convert more customers. She manages content marketing creation and implementation so clients can see the best results from their inbound marketing efforts. She geeks out on content marketing metrics and cat memes. +Courtney Ramirez
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