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THE SOCIETY OF MIDLAND AUTHORS

June-July 2009 Publicity Tip

Monthly Tips Index Ask Tom a Question

Tweet! Blowing the whistle on the "don'ts" of Twitter
by
Tom Ciesielka from TC Public Relations

"Tweet! Tweet!"
It's a bird! It's a whistle!
It's Twitter!

Undoubtedly, Twitter is the newest sensation to continue the great democratization of online media. Free and available to everyone, the goal of this application is to answer the question, "What are you doing?" in only 140 characters. However, Twitter has a bigger role than just an instant diary. Savvy users have realized Twitter's potential for PR 2.0, embracing the site as a method of reaching out and attracting media attention. Read on for a few "Twitter Dos and Twitter Don'ts."

The Do's & Don'ts of Twitter

Do follow ... slowly. The term "following" is used on Twitter to show how many other people you are connected to. Following on Twitter is to Connections on LinkedIn is to friends on Facebook. Capturing an audience is important, but you don't need to start following 857 of your closest friends on day one. Begin by following a few friends, some movers and shakers of your industry and some reporters. Listen to their tweets and offer relevant replies. Contribute meaningful posts that others might find interesting as a way to build your own following.

Do make Twitter work for you. Think Twitter is just another online distraction? Think again. Kraft's new line of frozen pizzas will be marketed largely on Twitter and Pizza Hut is hiring a "twintern" to monitor tweets about the company. Following bloggers and reporters is a great way to facilitate communication. Consider "tweeting" live updates during an event as way to give your readers a play-by-play. Think about what you want to use Twitter for and act on that objective.

Don't be boring or narcissistic. As fascinating as your life is, the average follower won't really care about what you're eating for breakfast. Or lunch for that matter. Stick to tweeting about pertinent and interesting topics, and find ways to express your personality through the links you post. If you want to use sarcasm or humor, that's OK; it will help you stand out. Participate in discussion, reply to other users' tweets, re-tweet their tweets. Twitter is not a one-person game, so don't try to be the center of the universe.

Don't say something you'll regret. In cyberspace, a record of your most inappropriate tweet will live on in Twitter infamy long after you've cooled down. It's good to be responsive when someone tweets negatively about you. But never forget that what you say on Twitter can come back to haunt you, so being too cheeky, rude or downright tasteless is a big no-no. Don't treat Twitter like a middle school gossip mill when it comes to talking about your competition either. Play it cool and don't tweet anything you wouldn't say in public; after all, Twitter is incredibly public.

These basic Twitter dos and don'ts will help you get your tweet off the ground and into the Twitterverse. Just remember to start small, think smart and always tweet the twuth.


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