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Twitter Best Practices

Staff Resources » Twitter Best Practices

Launched in 2006, Twitter is a social network that focuses on real-time news and conversation. There are more than 200 million monthly active users who send 500 million tweets each day.

A tweet is like a status update, and must be 140-characters or less. Tweets can include text, photos, links, and videos.

Edmonton is one of the most engaged Twitter communities in the country. In 2013, Twitter Canada said the hashtag #yeg – used by Edmontonians on Twitter to indicate tweets related to our city – was the #2 most used hashtag in the country.

Best Practices

  • Consider the 5 Ws when composing a tweet
    Can’t decide what to share? Think: who did what, what happened, what are you thinking, what did it make you feel, where did it happen, when did it happen, why did it happen?
  • Character limit
    You have just 140 characters for each tweet. Photos, GIFs, videos, @handles don’t count towards the total number of characters used.
  • Include visuals
    Similar to other platforms, visual content rules on Twitter. Tweets with photos are more engaging and more likely to get shares and replies. It’s also very common for Twitter users to attach movable GIFs as reactions or to provide context to tweets. YouTube links will auto-expand in tweets, making them more visual as well. Always consider whether there is a photo or visual element you could include in your tweets. Also note you can add up to 4 photos into a single tweet.
  • Use hashtags to add context or be strategic
    Tweets with hashtags appear in a search page with all other tweets containing the same hashtag. Including relevant hashtags in your tweets can increase reach
  • Tag @users for higher engagement
    Tagging a user will encourage that user to take action on your tweet – whether that’s retweeting (sharing your tweet to their followers), replying, or liking your post
  • Don’t make it all about you
    A successful, well-engaged and well-followed account talks to other people and shares other people’s content about 70% of the time, and self-promotes about 30% of the time. Don’t make it all about you. Don’t sell, sell, sell. It’s the conversations you have with users that will make the most impact on Twitter
  • Make use of your Twitter bio
    Before you start tweeting, change your profile picture and fill in your bio. Your bio should state who you are, and give an idea of what you’ll be tweeting (it can list your areas of expertise, your personal interests, relevant hashtags, etc.) If you include @usernames or #hashtags in your bio, your profile will show up when people search for those users/hashtags
  • Post a lot – it’s okay!
    Unlike other social networks, frequent posts to Twitter is good, strategic usage. Because of the real-time, quick, aspect of tweets, it’s not uncommon for a user to tweet several times in a short period. On Twitter, you’d look inactive if you were only posting once a day, whereas on Facebook or Instagram, users might get frustrated if your account is posting multiple times in a day, clogging up feeds. Tweets come in and are bumped down quickly so it’s okay to tweet lots (just ensure you’re posting relevant content)
  • Consider chaining your tweets
    If you reply to your own tweet, and remove any of the usernames associated (including your own), then tweet as you would if you started a new post, this will chain your tweets together into one thread, so if someone clicks into any of your tweets in that chain, they will see all the previous and all the later tweets. This is great for adding context, and is often used to organize tweets about an event, at a conference, or if you wanted to share multiple tweets about a certain topic
  • Don’t automate/cross-post to Facebook or other platforms
    You can connect your Twitter account to Facebook. This is meant to make sharing easier, but from a business perspective, it does a huge disservice to your audience. You should always think about tailoring photos, captions, and social media posts to the specific platform because depending on the platform, what photo you pick, how you phrase, or even how many hashtags you end up using, will change, and audiences will have different expectations.

Twitter Resources

Getting Started with Twitter

Twitter Tipsheet

Twitter Tips for Beginners

Official Twitter Blog