Twitter Etiquette for Small Business

So you decided that your business needs a Twitter account. That’s great! Twitter is a pretty useful tool that allows you to send out meaningful content in short, 140-character “bursts” to the world in real time. There are a lot of organizations and small businesses that can benefit from Twitter, and yours could too. However, Twitter – compared to Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – is a whole other social media monster.


What do you do now? How do you use Twitter? What are the rules of etiquette for small businesses? Here are my top 5:

Be mindful with hashtags
Maybe you’re used to Instagram, where you are allowed up to 30 hashtags per post (and using all 30 is encouraged to increase your chances of being seen), but it’s different with Twitter. #Using #too #many #hashtags can really muddy your message and look spammy since you only have so much space in your tweets. Be mindful in not only how many hashtags you use (2-3 is best practice), but also what hashtags you use. Think of a hashtag as a search term. If you’re an accounting firm, you may use the hashtag #finance in your tweets. When a user searches for #finance on Twitter, your tweets will appear in the results. If there is a major event happening that you’re a part of, or you want to be a part of, find that event’s hashtag and use it in your tweets during the time of the event. Anyone who searches for that event will now be exposed to your brand and tweets as well. A great example is National Small Business Week. The hashtag for that event is #DreamSmallBiz. During National Small Business Week, small businesses can use this hashtag to be a part of the conversation and communicate with other small businesses. 

Don’t abuse Direct Messaging
Direct Messaging, or DM for short, is when you’re privately messaging another user on Twitter. If you’re going to DM someone, it has to be for personal reasons. Don’t send out generic messages like “thanks for following!” or “check out our website for great deals!” This is a really quick way to lose followers.

Post often
Twitter is based in real time and on average there are about 500,000 tweets sent out every day. Needless to say, our tweets come and go in news feeds pretty quick. Does this mean you need to post 100+ times a day to stay relevant? Fortunately, that’s not the case. Based on information from Constant Contact, Buffer, and other marketing sources, businesses should aim to tweet around 3-5 times per day.

Fun fact: Did you know if you post over 100 times per hour, you could end up in “Twitter Jail”? That’s not the official term, but Twitter suggests that if you pass the threshold of 100 tweets/hour, you won’t be able to post for a certain period of time (that could go anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours) but you would still be able to access your account.

Avoid contentious conversation, issues
This is a general rule I tell my clients who are new to social media. While you’re online and representing your brand, stay positive. Avoid talking about any issue that could alienate a segment of your followers and customers. Keep in mind, this rule may not apply to organizations or businesses that deal in those issues. If you’re running a Twitter account for a church or political party, then it is to be expected that you would take a public stance on issues close to your organization’s mission and values. If you’re running an antique store, pizza joint, or a business that is open to the public, I would urge you remain cautious and aware of what you’re posting and think to yourself, “could I lose followers for this? Would this alienate a segment of my customer base?” Just be mindful.

Be authentic and have fun with it
All your posts don’t have to be stiff, business-related content. Mix it up! Post “behind the scenes” photos from work, make jokes, be a little silly. It’s okay to have some fun – this humanizes your business and makes you more relatable to your audience.
Mindy Lee
Advisor/Marketing Coordinator
Washburn University
America’s SBDC

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