The dos and don’ts of Twitter for accountants
Following on from his recent Accountants’ guide to Twitter, Mark Lee discusses how accountants can maximise their effectiveness on the site by following a few simple rules.
When it comes to using Twitter there are no absolute rules or universally agreed twitterquette (that’s Twitter etiquette for the uninitiated). However, there is a lot that we can learn from the experience of those who've gone before.
Based on my experience over the last year and inspired by a variety of guides to using Twitter for business, I’ve collated a top ten list of dos and don’ts for accountants who use Twitter.
- Do be social and interact with your followers and those you follow. Be thought-provoking with some of your tweets and pass on tips and ideas that others may find of interest.
- Do retweet (RT) tweets written by other people that you think are worth sharing with your followers. If you want some of your tweets to be retweeted, keep them to nearer 110 characters rather than 140 as the RT element of the message will often be 15-25 characters long.
- Do recommend books and articles that you’ve read that may be of interest to your followers.
- Do copy behaviour you find that you like on Twitter and avoid replicating behaviour that you dislike. Everyone is different of course but a ‘netiquette’ is developing and worth following.
- Do tweet links to your own or your favourite blog posts so that your followers know what you write about or like, and do ensure that you add a few words at least rather than just posting a link without any description.
- Do use an application like Tweetdeck on your computer to filter topics, create groups, and maximize your time on Twitter.
- Do use an application on your iPhone or BlackBerry to enable you to use Twitter in odd moments when you're away from your desk/office.
- Do remember that your followers may have friends, followers or family who could be looking for a new accountant, even if your followers seem unlikely to do so. They may retweet your messages or simply talk about you if the subject comes up.
- Do respond when people engage you in conversation. If you want to reply publicly use the @ sign at the start of your tweet (e.g. @bookmarklee). If you want to reply privately and directly use D before the other person's user name: (e.g. D bookmarklee).
- Do engage the people you follow or who follow you in conversation shortly after you connect. Ask them a question, or enquire about something they’ve tweeted, and they’ll be more likely to follow you back.
- Don't attempt to use the main Twitter website once you've registered, added a photo and your bio. The main Twitter website is not user friendly and will turn you off very quickly. Download an application like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Seismic to your computer and you'll find it all gets much easier.
- Don’t feel compelled to answer the basic Twitter question ‘what are you doing?’ – especially if the answer is something mundane. It’s better to imagine the invitation is to answer the question: ‘What is holding your attention right now?’
- Don’t automatically follow everyone who follows you or chase hundreds of followers. If you do this you will attract spammers, marketing 'gurus', social media specialists, loners and losers. None of them will be prospective clients or advocates. They probably won't even read any of your tweets. They will simply follow you in the hope that you’ll follow back and increase their numbers - and that is a mug’s game that many Twitter virgins play, although it serves no useful purpose.
- Don’t think you need to read everything on your Twitter feed. Think of it as a river. Jump in-stream, participate, and then get out. Never worry about what you’ve missed – it doesn’t work that way.
- Don't assume that all of your followers will see all of your tweets. They only dip in and out - just like you do.
- Don’t set up a standard message to auto-welcome new followers – they won’t click on your links and established Twitter users don’t like them.
- Despite the fact that you may be using Twitter as a marketing tool, don’t try to solicit business or make sales. It looks spammy, and will not secure you new clients. The bottom line is that you will generate enquiries only if your followers get to know and like you, and also if they know you're an accountant and that you like your work.
- Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want to be quoted in the press. Once published, all your tweets are there for posterity and you don’t want any of them to come back to haunt you.
- It should go without saying, but don’t tweet anything about a client without explicit permission. Along the same lines, even if it’s good or exciting news about the client, don’t assume that the client has already made it public. Even if it is public, you may still want to get permission first.
- Don’t expect to ‘get’ Twitter straight away. Apparently 60% of people who try to use Twitter give up within three months. I suspect many accountants will be the same.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree or have further tips to share? Please leave a comment with your own ideas and suggestions.
So far, I’ve only described what Twitter is and how you can use it. You may wish to know why you might choose to do so, what you can do with Twitter and how some accountants are benefitting from using Twitter. If you would like to see an article on developing a Twitter strategy for accountants, please leave your comments below and let us know.
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