5 tips to be better on Twitter

The Kansas City Star

When people write to me asking for social media advice, they often seek tips about Twitter.

I’ve been using Twitter for eight years now, and while I don’t find it confusing at all, many do. The most popular question is one that sounds simple but really isn’t: Am I doing it right?

Tweeting is a personal experience, and you'll need to find your own voice to ultimately be successful. But I can tell you some things you definitely should and shouldn’t do that I think will go a long way in helping you #tweetlikeapro in no time.

If you’re going to tweet without responding, don’t bother tweeting. It’s really that simple. I often tell people that the best social media tip in the world is to be social. That part isn’t rocket science, but if I had a nickel for every time someone told me he or she only had time to tweet but no time to respond, I’d be a very rich man. You can’t choose between tweeting and engaging; they’re a package deal.

Your bio and photo are very important. An air of mystery is good sometimes, but it’s definitely not good here. Your bio shows up in Google and Twitter searches, so make sure people can see you and find you. The default photo is an egg, and if you’ve heard people say that you shouldn’t be an egg on Twitter, this is what they mean.

The rule of thirds will change your social media life. This is how you ensure the proper mix of content. One-third of the time, tweet about your brand and your business. One-third of the time, tweet about things related to it without using your own content. One-third of the time be personal and answer questions to let people know who’s behind the account. And feel free to play around with the ratios. The key is to not always tweet the same thing and risk boring someone into unfollowing you.

Using Twitter lists is like having a clean closet. You know how good you feel after you pick all the clothes off the floor and then fold and organize everything neatly? That’s how you'll feel after setting up Twitter lists. Instead of 1,000 people’s accounts all flowing into one giant stream that you can’t possibly manage, separate people by topic or location or in some other way in a Twitter list. Then, using a program such as Tweetdeck, put your list in a column. I’m betting you'll love it.

PLEASE DON'T START YOUR TWEETS LIKE THIS IN ALL CAPS. When you do, the message you want people to be drawn to is almost always overshadowed by people who don’t understand why you’re screaming at them or telling them what they already know. If you are tweeting about something tragic, there’s absolutely no reason ever to start the tweet with TRAGIC.

A final piece of advice about Twitter: Don’t focus so much on failing; focus more on trying and seeing what sticks.