- Business and Employment
Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Tweet
Before you hit the tweet button, ask yourself these questions
Wait - don't hit that tweet button just yet.
We all know how efficient Twitter can be when it comes to promoting our businesses or work, but because it's so quick and easy, then it's also easy to forget that just a moment checking our messages can have huge benefits.
The messages you send to Twitter are an important part of your internet reputation; your online authority and trust. It's worth taking the few moments to be sure that every message you sends reflects you and your business to its best advantage.It's easy to imagine that Twitter is a fast-paced medium and that your messages aren't permanent (something like instant messaging) but that's not the case.
Increasingly, people are embedding tweets on their websites and this includes important news sites.Your messages might be seen by many people over a long period of time. Take the time to make sure that they deserve it.
Graphics © BritFlorida
Is your message interesting and / or useful to your readers?
Of course, the definition of 'useful' is broad. But please be sure that your message adds value to your followers. This might be a recipe, instructions for making something or a book you've reviewed - there are so many possibilities.
It might just be that you want to bring a smile to your followers' faces or to uplift their spirits with a gorgeous photograph. It's a great idea to check your message's value to your followers in the hope that they will pass it onto their own. Are you proud of your message?
Consider the people you look up to the most - would you be happy for them to see your message?
Is your message suitable for your followers?
If you haven't already, it's a good idea to look through your follower list (and check every month or so) just to be sure about their interests. The chances are that they follow you because your subjects interest them, but it's always a good idea to check.
By studying your followers, you'll learn more about what they want from you. I regularly remind myself that my followers have chosen to follow me for a reason. I feel a responsibility towards them to thank them for following by posting messages that will interest them - just as a magazine editor wants to please his or her readers.
That 'unfollow' button takes only a second to press, after all.
What is the goal of your message?
You know your overall social media goal - it may be to showcase your creative work or to drive visitors to your website. Maybe you want to reach influencers in your particular niche, or you want to spread the word about your favourite charity or event. Does your message fit the bill?
Of course, different messages will have different aims but do check to be sure that your message has a goal and that it fulfills it. For example, a local restaurant often tweets links to their reviews. This doesn't interest me at all, but post a photograph of the delicious lunch special and you might see me at your table soon.Always know why you're tweeting.
Don't tweet 'for the sake of it.'
Are you using hashtags correctly?
I've met people who think that these have some strange 'magical' properties that will enhance your message - this isn't the case. If you're using hashtags, be sure that you understand why you're doing so and not simply doing this because 'experts' advise it.It's unlikely that any message will require more than two hashtags, if any at all. (Twitter itself advises no more than two in its user guidelines).
They can make your message hard to read and unintelligible. They take up valuable real estate in your short message. Many times, they add no value at all to your posts.
Consider each hashtag with care.
How many characters are in your message?
As you read above, hashtags 'eat into' the limited space you have available. When you're composing your message, consider that ideally, some of your followers will want to share it with their own so be sure that you make it easy for them by keeping your message short.With many messages I see, there are simple ways to shorten your message.
For example, replace 'and' with '&'. You really don't need three exclamation points and an ellipsis (...) is rarely necessary.
Neither is LOL, truly.
Are you using an image?
It's true that not every message you write will need - or even be suitable for - an image. But, by keeping the text short, you have the advantage of being able to include an image which, as the cliché tells us, is worth a thousand words.
The restaurant special I mentioned above is a good example.An intriguing image can encourage viewers to click on your link - it whets the appetite (literally, in the case of recipes) and makes your followers want to find out more. I mentioned earlier the growing habit of embedding Twitter messages on websites. They are always far more attractive and informative than text-only messages.
If you have a great image, it can explain far more than your words can.
Does your message fit in with the data you have?
There's no need to spend hours poring over analytics but it's an excellent idea to use some (free) service to check that your efforts are working and how you can improve.(I always find some ways I can make my Twitter time more effective.
Small issues like the time of day might make a difference, for instance.If you notice that you sent out a message at 8am and it had several retweets and yet the same message sent out at 8pm had none, then you've discovered another way to make the most of Twitter. Everyone is different - I find that messages with images tend to be more successful, you might find the opposite. It's a case of finding out what's working for you.
Make the most of the information available to you.
Have I sent this message before? When?
Although your timeline probably zips by, people will look at your profile and see your latest tweets. Be careful that they don't see the same message time after time. If you have a message that you want to send out every day (I do) then it's a good idea to vary the copy and the image.Don't cheat your followers though - if they've visited your link before and you overly 'disguise' it with an irrelevant image and misleading copy then they're going to hit that 'unfollow' button.
I can't tell you how many people I have unfollowed because of the it's-nine-thirty-and-he's-posting-that-same-old-message-again syndrome.
With our work, it's our goal to delight our clients - let's aim to delight our followers too.
Why am I sending this message right now?
Unless you have a pre-planned schedule for your tweets (which is a great idea and it's what the pros do) then you might want to take a moment to consider whether your timing is perfect. The more you understand your followers, the better you'll be able to gauge your timing.Try to reduce the number of messages that you send 'just because'.
For instance, if I see someone sending out a message with recipes for Easter, and it's July, you can understand why I suspect that they are simply tweeting at random. Or, even worse, they are tweeting to some agenda of their own rather than to be informative and useful for their followers. It's easy to unfollow anyone who is being irrelevant.
Think Frank Sinatra - timing is everything.
Will I be able to respond?
Many of us today find it a good idea to schedule tweets. I do. But I make sure that I can monitor them, either at home or via the phone if I'm out and about.
Over-scheduling could mean that you're not available to respond to questions or comments about your message. These are most likely to happen in the half hour post-tweet.Because we are showing our personality and reflecting our businesses or work, then we ideally want to be known as people who are alert and responsive. Sending messages is only one side of Twitter - reacting and responding is the reverse side of the coin.Finally, before you press that button, do check for typos.
Read your message. Happy with it? Then go ahead - tweet.
Have you ever noticed that many times, the less we pay for something the less we value it? Maybe that's why people have such a cavalier, devil-may-care attitude towards social media. But the fact remains that it's an extremely powerful influence in our lives and a powerful force when it comes to promotion.Above, I have written mostly about using social media from the point of view of the small business person, the individual craftsman or artist or those who are going it alone without the help of a professional social media manager. But the 'little guy' can benefit enormously - try the book you see here to find out more. This small outlay could reap huge benefits.
Do you have comments or tips of your own? I'd love to hear from you.
© 2014 Jackie Jackson