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Idea Box: Doís and Doníts of Using Twitter
For social media newbies, basic explanation of the doís and doníts of using Twitter.

By Staff
Date Posted: 7/1/2013

                Social media platforms have become a large part of marketing efforts and information sharing in the business world. Twitter is one of the most popular social media venues, probably because it’s format of 140 characters or less per post makes it quick and easy for companies to use to either share or gather information from a customized list of sources.

                If you’re venturing onto Twitter for the first time, there are some etiquette rules and marketing suggestions that businesses should remember.

                • Learn the lingo. Twitter is full of unique terms and shortcuts. If you don’t know them you’ll spend a lot of time confused about what is going on. Some of the most important terms and shortcuts to know are:

                • Tweet: A message of 140 characters or less that is posted on Twitter, or the act of posting a tweet

                • Retweet or RT: A tweet that has been copied by another user, or the act of copying another user’s tweet. Proper Twitter etiquette requires that credit be given to the original poster whenever something is retweeted, by inserting “retweet” or “RT” and linking back to the user’s page.

                • Mention: On Twitter, this means including a link to another user’s page within a tweet.  To do this, put the “@” symbol before a username anywhere within a tweet. The tweet will then show up on both users’ pages.

                • Follow, followers, following: To follow a Twitter user is to subscribe to their tweets. Each user has followers who receive their posts as well as the option of following users that they choose.

                • Hashtag (#): A hashtag, denoted with the “#” symbol, is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. Hashtags are usually placed at the end of a tweet, but are not required. Using hashtags will help users interested in the topics you tweet about find your tweets.

                • Direct message or DM: A private tweet between two users.

                • URL shorteners: Many tweets include a link to a website address or URL. Since tweets are limited to 140 characters, URL shorteners are used to turn long URLs into shorter URLs. Twitter has its own automatic URL shortener or other shortening services can be found online.

                • Don’t over advertise. Many experts recommend following an 80/20 rule of thumb in social media – spend at least 80% of your time on non-promotional activities and no more than 20% promoting your products or brand. Non-promotional activities include sharing information that might be useful or just entertaining to customers and interacting with others. Remember that the purpose of any social media venue is being social.

                • Be real. The lure of social media for many people is the opportunity to see the people behind a brand or company name. Sharing some of your business practices, talking about things that happen behind the scenes, or posting pictures of activities at your company are all ways to let followers feel connected.

                • Post a variety of interesting content. Though a company may use it as marketing tool, most customers that use Twitter do it for fun and to share information in a quick-read format. In addition to your insightful thoughts, post things such as pictures, videos and outside links that customers will find interesting.

                • Don’t ignore negative interactions. If someone tweets something negative about your company, respond to it courteously. Leaving negative comments unanswered can damage a company’s reputation. Preferably, request that the user contact customer service by email or phone so that the issue can be resolved more efficiently and reduce the chance for a public relations disaster that could result from handling issues in a public forum.

                • Don’t ignore positive interactions. If a follower tweets something positive about your company, tweet a thank you back. Not only is it considered good Twitter manners, it also shows that you are listening.

                Follow the TimberLine Twitter feed for updates on the logging, sawmill, biomass and wood products sectors. Visit www.twitter.com/timberlinemag and click on the “Follow” button.

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