6 Smart Ways to Use Twitter & 4 Things to Avoid at All Costs

How well do you know your way around Twitter?

If you don’t consider yourself a savvy or experienced Twitter user, don’t feel bad. Millions upon millions of Twitter users are either officially inactive or only loosely engaged with the platform. Many simply don’t feel that Twitter is a good use of their social media time in comparison with Facebook, Instagram, and other popular platforms.

Don’t write off Twitter just yet, though. It still has hundreds of millions of active users, many of whom are just waiting for an opportunity to engage with you and your brand (if they are not in fact one and the same). It’s in your best interest to know how to use Twitter the right way while avoiding the many pitfalls that can ensnare less experienced users.

Ready to get started? First up, six smart ways to use Twitter.

6 Smart Ways to Use Twitter

Try ‘em all — they’re not rocket science.

1. Limit “Follows” to True Influencers and Those You Genuinely Enjoy Engaging With

Don’t follow every random account under the sun. Although Twitter isn’t especially transparent about how its algorithm works, it’s likely that a high follow-to-follower ratio sets off its alarm bells. Besides, you don’t want your timeline cluttered with irrelevant conversation. Your follows have power; reward those who create real value for your Twitter experience.

2. Work Human-Scale, Eye-Catching Visuals Into Your Tweets

Twitter is famous for its 140-character limit (now 280, but still quite brief). But, as the old saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words. Your tweets should be rich with visuals and videos; this engaging Twitter profile shows how it’s done.

3. Use Multi-Tweet Threads to Share Portions of Longform Content Posted Elsewhere

About that 280-character limit: It’s often not enough to say everything you’d like in a single tweet. That’s where threading comes in. Use properly threaded tweets (“tweetstorms,” some call ‘em) to convey key points from longform content posted elsewhere (whether your original or shared from a public domain source) and build your thought leadership cred in the process.

4. Post at Least Four Retweets and Shares for Every One Piece of Self-Promotional Content

You wouldn’t think it from a short visit to the platform, but Twitter isn’t all about self-promotion. Less is more; post at least four pieces of content from other users or sources for every one piece of self-promotional content (like a plug for your services).

5. Link to Your Next Most Important Social or Web Property From Your Profile

That’s probably your personal website, but it could be your company’s homepage, an “About” page featuring you, or an archive of published works. 

6. Avoid Going Overboard With Hashtags

Hashtags still have a place on Twitter and a few other social media platforms, but they’re no longer central to the user experience. In fact, excessive hashtag use is a major turnoff for experienced Twitter users. In certain circles, using multiple hashtags in a tweet is a fast track to being muted or even unfollowed.

4 Things Not to Do on Twitter

Okay, now that you’ve got some sensible Twitter hacks under your belt, what should you stay away from? These four common pitfalls, for sure:

1. Tweet When You’re Angry

This one is self-explanatory. As soon as your blood begins to rise, put the phone down. Better yet, lock it away. Nothing good comes of tweeting in anger.

2. Reply to Random Conversations Without Invitation

This isn’t quite a universal rule. There are situations in which it does make sense to engage with ongoing Twitter conversations in midstream. But think of the real-world equivalent; you wouldn’t very well want your creepy neighbor butting in on your conversation with close friends on your patio, would you?

3. Add Excessive Commentary to Self-Explanatory Shares

Let them speak for themselves. Your audience is smarter than you give them credit for.

4. Tweet About Topics You Don’t Really Understand or Aren’t in Keeping With Your Brand

Your followers shouldn’t have to scroll too far through your feed to get a feel for your public brand. Said brand could be very different from who you really are, but that’s the point; Twitter isn’t real life. Focus on the sides of yourself that you want to present to the world and leave everything else for more personal outlets.

Tweet Confidently But Carefully

There’s an old saying — something about the fool opening his mouth to remove all doubt. It’s not a very flattering comparison, to be sure, but it’s nonetheless appropriate for our Twitter-addled times. Often, as we’ve seen, it’s better not to tweet at all.

Hopefully, the advice herein can help you strike the right balance on Twitter. You shouldn’t be scared to step up and engage when it’s warranted, just so long as you know when to step back temporarily. You have it within you to tweet confidently yet carefully. And, if you’re able to walk that line, you’ll find that your followers — a growing crowd of them, no doubt — have your back.

Annika Bansal

Annika "The Chick Geek" is the founder of AnnikaBansal.com. Small Business Sense shares small business ideas, tips and resources for independent Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners.