Your brand will be less bad at Twitter when you stop these four bad behaviors
After seeing some frustrating trends on Twitter over the years, here are some quick, actionable things that you — someone who runs a brand’s Twitter account — can do to help make the Twitter experience better for readers.
Using non-branded URLs.
Give your reader context of where they’re going if they see a link in your Tweet — don’t disguise it with a bit.ly link you use to track clicks. Short URLs haven’t been relevant on Twitter since 2011, so you don’t need to shorten your links for Twitter’s purposes, and it’s also a good practice to track incoming traffic and referrals anyway. URLs have meaning and they influence whether or not someone clicks on your link. That means using short URLs in Tweets is a usability issue. Your own craving for metrics should not interfere with a reader’s experience. Just place the link in your Tweet and let the reader decide if it’s something they want to click. They’ll appreciate the context.
If you absolutely insist on using a short link to forward people to your content, consider registering a branded short domain (I use stev.lu sometimes) to at least give some context as to the domain where you’re sending people.
Hashtags are much less of a discovery tool on Twitter in the way they are on Instagram (or Twitter in 2009). You don’t need to turn phrases of your Tweets into #longhashtagstatements in hopes of the sweet nectar of #engagement. It’s frustratingly annoying for people to read and shows ineptitude. It’s not a bad idea to avoid using hashtags altogether unless you’re part of a trending topic or event.
Cross-posting content from other platforms.
Every single Tweet should be created for Twitter. Never auto-post from other networks. Personally, I mute “fb.me” and “ift.tt” links in TweetDeck — they’re an instant indicator that someone’s too lazy to create unique content and is instead rehashing Facebook posts that were probably designed for Facebook, not Twitter. (Plus, someone has to click a link to even read your post.)
Try to keep in mind what someone is doing when they’re reading Tweets. It’s pretty unlikely someone’s looking for your brand’s Tweets specifically; more likely than not, a Tweet is appearing in an endless stream of other stuff.
You become instantly better than 90% of brands on Twitter if you think about the context of the reader.
Selling in every Tweet.
You can tell a story or share a thought in a Tweet. You do not need a link for your reader to take immediate action or buy something. The person glancing at your Tweets — in the context of all the other stuff — will appreciate if your Tweet is part of a larger narrative or story, and not necessarily trying to steer them off Twitter.
If you are promoting something, at least include a photo or screenshot of the destination so the Tweet itself can stand alone.
You will enjoy more engagement when you remember to share unique, interesting, Twitter-specific content. People will share your Tweet if it makes them look smart, cool, or funny. They’ll tune out or skip over it — and certainly not share it — if everything is promoting something.
In other words, take your time. Be original. Care about the experience of the reader, and think about their context. Treat Twitter like you’re talking to one person, not a collective. Respect each person.