Rules to Better Twitter (plus Facebook and other Social Networking)


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  1. Do you know that every comment gets a tweet?

    ​​​If someone's blog post is interesting or inflammatory enough that you want to comment on it, then it is probably worth a tweet.

    @​​MrHinsh I missed this...John Liu, making sense, something to see​ 
    less than 20 seconds ago​ via

    Figure: When you comment, tweet the other persons blog. Its only polite​
    ​ ​​​
  2. Do you know that your forum activity gets a tweet?

    If you are active in a forum, like the MSDN or StackOverflow forums, then you should set up the RSS for your activity to automatically tweet.

    Replied to the question Error when trying to 'add assembly from project output' in the package manager. in the Sha...​REtu

    6:02 PM M​ar 12th via twitterfe​ed

    Figure: Good example - MSDN and ardv​ark tweets are automatic using twitterfeed

    Just helped someone from Rexburg, US with a question about *diligence* ...on Aardvark!

    Figure: Good example - Aardvark tweet​​s are built in

    Maybe your followers will want to chip in with a better answer. 

    This is done by finding your "activity" feed on the forum.​

    Example of activity feed from StackOverflow

  3. Do you know to thank others for each reference to you?

    ​When others mention you on their blog or podcast and if they re-tweet you then you should always thank them:

    @briankel said something nice about me in his 100th This Week On Channel 9 episode :) Thanks Brian...
    7:30 AM Mar 8th

    Figure: Good example, always thanking someone is not just good practice and polite, you both get Google juice as well.

    Remember to say something constructive and not just "thanks".

  4. Do you have a Facebook Like Page for each entity you have?

    ​Do you need one?

    If an object can gather enough of a community willing to share a common interest, then a Facebook Like Page (was a Fan Page) is suitable.

    A Like Page should be available for each popular product or entity of your company. SSW has a page for the Rules section of our company but not for each individual product; on the other hand, it would be suitable for Microsoft to have a separate page for each of their products.

    Facebook Like pages
    Figure: One of these Like Pages is probably unnecessary.

    Whether your product or entity requires a Like Page depends largely on how effectively it will reach your target audience. Such pages usually have a high upkeep as you need to spend time to maintain your public image, responding to comments and posting updates reliably. It can be a profitable maneuver, but if this style of social networking does not reach out to your audience, then maintaining it is needless.

  5. Do you allow users to Facebook 'Like' every page?

    Facebook recommendations are a great way to publicize your pages without blatant advertising.

    Figure: A user clicks recommend.

    Figure: His friends can see this activity on the homepage (provided that the plugin is installed.)

    Figure: It appears on your Facebook page.

    Figure: Your friends also see it on your Facebook page.
  6. Do you create friendly short URL's?

    When you create short URLs, it is worth considering exactly why you are shortening it.

    Is it for space or readability? If it is for readability or you expect anyone to ever type it in, then consider making a friendly short URL.​​

    I want to be able to type this URL in, but it is VERY long:

    Bad example - People can’t easily type this URL in…. it is too long
    Thanks Rob, that is great.
    Made a at
    Bad example - How will I remember that? Good example - Easier to remember​​
  7. Do you use and encourage others to use hashtags?

    ​ Hashtags identify the keyword or topic of interest that the post is about. They allow searching for similar posts on the topic. They were popularized on twitter and now work on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+. On twitter, it is possible to "track" (aka Subscribe to) a tag. 

    The best tweets will use a combination of @mentions and #hashtags where appropriate to properly leverage the platform – that way readers can check out the people involved OR join the conversation about a topic. See our rule Do you know when to use a hashtag vs. a @mention?​ to see how to best leverage them in combination. ​

    Tips for companies

    Tip #1: Encourage people to use the correct hashtag by adding the hashtag to your sidebar or footer.

    Figure: On you can see the sidebar shows a feed with the hashtag used

    Tip #2: When creating your own hashtag to promote a service, product or event, check if it isn't already in use for anything else.

    Tips for everyone

    Tip #3: Don't use too many hashtags – 2 or 3 maximum per post, or you may appear to be "spammy" and turn people off.

    Tip #4: Keep your hashtags on topic – again, you might seem "spammy" if you use hashtags that are unrelated to your post.

    Tip #5: For more readability, capitalise the first letter of each word, for example, #SocialMedia.

    Examples of hashtags we use

    • ​​#SSW - For our company-related posts
    • #SSWRules - For our public standards
    • #SSWTV - For our video channel
    • #FireBootCamp - For our training programs
    • #AngularHackDay - For one of our training events
  8. Do you know to make short URL’s readable where you can?

    Readability of URLs is important. It is not just making the length as short as possible.

    If you use a shortened link people can't see what they are clicking through to. In fact, this is what most spammers rely on:

    Figure: Bad example - You don't know where this is going

    When you can, take the more readable option:

    Figure: Better example - this link is sent in the clear as it is short enough

    So you should only 'Auto Shorten URLs' when it is too long and you need the space.

    However, it is becoming more prevalent for the software to support showing the full URL on rollover.

    Figure: Good example – the application does the heavy lifting for you
  9. Do you know what to tweet?

    Your tweets should be interesting to your target audience. People aren't going to follow you for long if you make off topic and low value tweets.

    Bad Example - "Having lunch" is not an interesting tweet

    Some good examples of things to tweet about:
    • 1 day before an event, tweet about the event and what you are talking about
    • On the day of the event, check-in on foursquare when you arrive (gives people a nice map)
    • When something good happens to you, eg. you beat your boss in an arm wrestle 
    • Tweet before and after installing new software or after an upgrade eg:
      • Installing #SharePoint2010 for the first time
      • #SharePoint2010 install done - found a great guide to follow here:

    Good Example - An informative tweet with hash tags which appeals to a targeted audience of IT followers
    Read more about Do you know what to tweet?
  10. Do you tweet rules that you follow?

    ​​​​​If you follow a rule, then tweet it.​ Use #ssw and #sswrules

    ​Figure: Good Example - Tweeting about a rule you use using the right hashtags​
    You have just tweeted your first rule…
  11. Do your presentations promote online discussion?

    Getting attendees at a course or presentation involved has many benefits:

    • They can share ideas with the presenter and each other
    • They can provide feedback for improvement of the material
    • They can share key points that they learn

    The easiest way to get attendees involved is to promote a Twitter hashtag at the beginning of every presentation or course.

    Figure: Bad Example – Presentation title slide does not promote attendee involvement
    Figure: Good Example – Promoting a Twitter backchannel promotes online discussion and feedback
  12. Do you add Embedded Timelines to your website (aka Twitter Box)?

    People don't go to your Twitter profile as often as they visit your website. It's a good idea to have your Twitter timeline on your website. The Embeddable timelines are interactive and also enable your visitors to reply, Retweet, and favorite Tweets directly from your website pages.​​ The best place to put it is on the sidebar.

    Visit​ to view instructions on creating your embedded Twitter timeline.

    Figure: SSW TV Twitter timeline on SSW TV website sidebar​

    Note: Visit Facebook's Page Plugin to also integrate a Facebook Like Box to your website​

  13. Do you analyse your results once a month?

    Analysing your results (click throughs and new followers) lets you see what has been successful and what people are interested in. This helps you further streamline your content and provides an insight into trends and areas of growth. 

    Figure: using spreadsheet software like MS Excel is an easy way to track your success

  14. Do you create a call to action on your Facebook page?

    Facebook has a call-to-action feature that helps Pages drive business objectives. These call-to-action buttons link to any destination on or off Facebook that aligns with a business’s goals.

    Page admins can select from a group of call-to-action buttons:

    • Book Now
    • Contact Us
    • Use App
    • Play Game
    • Shop Now
    • Sign Up
    • Watch Video

    ​​For services or apps, you should use the "Watch Video" one. Video is flooding the online marketplace and is quickly becoming a marketing standard to convey your message.​ ​If you don't have a video yet, visit SSW's Video Services pages to make a creative and engaging ​video for your company.

    Figure: Good Example - Take the Facebook visitor to watch your video
  15. Do you have a banner to advertize the hashtag you want people to use?

    Twitter hashtags aggregate similar subjects on one page, so users can search for a particular trend, news, event, etc.

    It is a free tool that can be used in combination with other forms of promoting services, products and events. Create a short, consistent and easy to remember hashtag so people can find and talk about your business.​

    You should have a banner that clearly show the hashtag people should use to refer to that specific subject.

    See examples of pages that advertise their hashtags:

    Twitter hashtag example
    Figure: This Twitter widget shows the hashtags working
    SharePoint conference hashtag
    Figure: Good Example - SharePoint Conference 2014 banner to advertise the hashtag people should use
  16. Do you identify your online purchases?

    When making an online purchase from the company account, remember to include your name in the postal details so that the item is correctly identified and given to you - having it sent to the company unidentified or with the boss's name on it instead can lead to confusion and the package may end up in limbo. 
  17. Do you keep it alive?

    Use Buffer (see Rule “Do you use Buffer to post to social media?​”) to post to your social media sites at least 3 times a week (ideally daily) with upcoming events, information about products or services, relevant news items or images, or anything else that you think your followers would be interested in. These posts maintain your online presence and are great advertising. 

  18. Do you know how to weed out spammers?

    ​​​Maintaining a public profile on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn is a free and easy way to connect with users and keep them updated your products, services or events. The downside to this is that not all who want to connect with you and your groups are real people – some are spammers or bots who will clog up your group, forum or event listing with unwanted advertisements or even links to sites that contain malicious code.

     Before approving a membership request, consider:
    • How old is the account?
    • Is the account profile properly filled out? 
    • Do the name and picture match the listed gender? 
    • Does the profile picture look “real” (as opposed to a picture of a model that the spammer has stolen from elsewhere)?
    • Does the account show real status updates or are they gibberish?
    • Are they a member of many incongruous groups that don’t fit with their location? 
    Note: these are only a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. Use your initiative when approving membership requests. 

    For groups on facebook, there is now a tool that allows admin to ask up to 3 preset questions of all users wishing to join. This can be helpful in establishing in separating spammers from legitimate users.
    Figure: Asking a screening question is a good way to separate real people with a genuine interest from those who just want to spam the group

    Example of a suspicious profile

    Figure: an example of a suspicious profile 

    Some sites will allow you moderate comments so that only approved posts are displayed. If you're experiencing ongoing problems with spammers, this might be a good option to use as it keeps your site friendly and professional, and gives you the final word on what content is shared with your members or followers. 

  19. Do you know when to use a hashtag vs. a @mention?

    #Hashtags are used when talking about something – a topic or keyword. Using a hashtag creates a link that leads to a page displaying an aggregated list of posts about that thing. 

    On the other hand, @Mentions are used when talking to or about someone (the user account of a person, brand, group, etc.). The link created by a mention goes to that user account. The user is notified when they have received a mention in a post so that they can respond.​

    The best tweets will use a combination of @mentions and #hashtags where appropriate to properly leverage the platform – that way readers can check out the people involved OR join the conversation about a topic.

    Figure: Figure: This tweet utilises @mentions, #hashtags, and an external link, which will create higher engagement and let the reader further explore the topic

    Small companies:
    If the brand is not big you don't need it diluted. So find the profile and use the @ not the #
    E.g. @firebootcamp is preferred over #firebootcamp 

    Large companies:
    If the brand is big, you will see a difference between the @ and the #. So if you want to tweet about a subject that is also a username – such as #VisualStudio / @VisualStudio - then the content of your tweet will decide whether to use a hashtag or a @mention: 
    • If you are talking to someone directly, or mention a specific user in your tweet, you should use the @mention.
      E.g. Thanks to @visualstudio for the map to Bill Gates’s house – I’m looting his safe right now!
    • If it is about the topic, then the hashtag is the way to go.
      E.g. Microsoft releases #VisualStudio 2013 Update 2
  20. Do you share when you upgrade an application?

    ​When you do a major (or minor) upgrade to an application, you should let people know and identify the reason for the upgrade.
    Whether your upgrade is to take advantage of a new feature, to fix a bug, or even just to keep yourself on the latest and greatest version, your followers might want to know why you upgraded. You should put a short announcement on Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn. Your followers may not know about the changes and the ones who are grateful are likely to retweet or like your post.octopus_upgrade.png
    Figure: Good Example - announcing the upgrade with a short note of the new feature
  21. Do you tweet every blog post?

    You should always publish your blog posts to Twitter. It helps boost traffic and visibility for your site.

    Make it automatic. You do not need to do this manually, there are services out there that will monitor your blogs RSS or ATOM feed and publish when you do.

    The best one is:

    • - This offers a dedicated established service that will publish your feed to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more.​

  22. Do you use Buffer to post to social media?

    ​Buffer is a great tool for managing multiple social media accounts across a range of sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
    It allows you to choose which accounts to post to, can post to multiple social media accounts at once, and even lets you write and schedule your posts to be released over the course of a day or even over the next few weeks, so you don't need to be at your computer while maintaining an online presence. It also offers URL shortening and provides analytics so you can track the success of your posts across multiple sites.

    You can either visit the Buffer web app in your browser  or install a tool that sits next to the address bar of your browser.

    Figure: to use the Buffer app from your browser, simply click the symbol
    Figure: You can select as many Social Media accounts as required and post to each platform at once using Buffer. You can also use the "Customize for each network" button to modify the content for each platform before you post it

    The content of your posts should be consistent across accounts. When making a post that exceeds the character limit of a site such as Twitter, you should write a separate, shorter version of the post to send to that site only. You can also use the "Customize for each network" button on Buffer to modify the content to better suit the platform for each post. This means that you could write the content for a Tweet and then modify it to remove things like #Hashtags to post it to LinkedIn where they don't make sense.

    Tweet example.jpg
    ​​​Figure: Bad example - only Tweeting using Twitter alone and not using a scheduler to post across the different media platforms at once. This is time consuming!​
    ​Figure: Good example - posting using Buffer to modify your content between platforms - much faster than posting individually to each platform every time 

    #Hashtags: #Hashtags are used across social sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for similar posts on the topic.

    Establish a short #Hashtag that can be easily associated with your brand, company, or campaign and ensure this #Hashtag is used consistently across social networks, along with any other keywords relevant to the content of your post.

    Note: LinkedIn does not support #Hashtags. If you use them in a post, they will show up on LinkedIn pages as plain text.

    For more on SSW #Hashtags, check out Do you know how to use Hashtags?

    Custom URL shortening: Buffer uses bi​ to shorten URLs. You can create custom URLs at no cost by joining and going into Settings | Advanced. This will allow even your shortened URL to carry your unique brand without the look of a long, untidy URL.

    For more on and URL shortening, check out Rules to Better

    TIP: Buffer does not tag people on Facebook. You will need to manually go onto the Facebook page you posted through and edit the post to tag the people you wanted. 
  23. Do you change your Twitter name when travelling?

    When at a conference change it to the conference's hashtag:
    Eg. Todd Gardner at #NdcOslo

    When traveling change it to the area you are in:
    Eg. Todd Gardner in Norway 🇳🇴 

    ​This tip also works well on all social media platforms. Eg. Facebook, Instagram etc.​

    Figure: Changing name when traveling​
  24. Do you follow minimum image sizes on social media?

    ​​​Always make sure the images you add to any post has good quality. Read and follow​ The Latest Social Media Image Sizes Guide.

    It's very important that the images you share look great for every user, so always follow the minimum standard image resolution when making a new post. 

    For example, what should be your​ image size for Instagram? Since 2015, Instagram's default image size is 1080px by 1080px to keep up with Retina and other high-resolution displays available on smartphones, tablets, and laptops.​

    By the way, if you're shooting straight from your smartphone camera don't bother, the image should be already good enough. :)

    Figure: ​​2019 Social Media image sizes 
  25. Do you have links to your main services on your LinkedIn profile?

    ​​LinkedIn is the main business and employment-oriented social networking service available. It's important to keep it up-to-date and link it to your company services.

    Figure: Use the "Link" button in your profile "edit mode" to include the URLs for the main services your provide
    Figure: Bad example - Profile with no links
    Figure: Good example - Profile with links to main services provided
  26. Do you know how to verify your twitter account?

    Twitter now lets anyone request a verified account (the blue tick goes public). Twitter says that an account will be verified if it is deemed of be of public interest.

    As outlined on the Twitter website:

    Request to verify an account

    The blue verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic. 

    We approve account types maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas. If you believe your account is of public interest and should be verified, this article outlines information about submitting a request.

    Submitting a request

    To be able to complete the form, your account must have the following:
    • A verified phone number
    • A confirmed email address
    • A bio
    • A profile photo
    • A header photo
    • A birthday (for accounts that are not company, brand, or organization accounts)
    • A website
    • Tweets set as public in Tweet privacy settings
    • Profile and account recommendations
    Some common characteristics of verified accounts include:

    • If the account belongs to a person, the name reflects the real or stage name of the person.
    • If the account is a corporation or company account, the name reflects the real name of the corporation or company.
    • The profile and/or header photo reflects the person, the corporation’s branding, or the company’s branding.
    • If the account is a corporate or company account, the email address associated with the account is a corporate or company email address.
    In order to verify your account, fill out this form .

  27. Do you know the best practices for your Twitter ads?

  28. Promotion - Do People Know About Your Event

    How are you going to have a successful event if no one shows up? ​​

    You will have to promote your event in a way that makes sense to your topic and approach. The most cost effective way is to use the large variety of online services that are available.


    This is the best way to increase discoverability of your event. Meetup provides the following:

    • Allows people to search and discover​ events
    • Allows people to join your group to get updates
    • You can easily list your upcoming events and have people join them
    • Comes with an automatic mailing list so you can send out announcements

    Word of Mouth

    Don't underestimate the power of one friend or colleague telling another. DDD Melbourne sold out in 10 hours with almost no promotion except for Twitter and Word of Mouth. If you are creating a recurring event, Word of Mouth becomes extremely important as past experiences flow through the grapevine.

    Social Media

    In some circumstances it is worth setting up one or more accounts on social media for promoting and corresponding as the event identity. In technical circles it is especially popular to use Twitter as a way to create awareness about events. SSW use a combination of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to promote our events, that way we have a much larger and diverse audience to draw from.​​

    TIP: Get your staff to Tweet at events and to Re-Tweet your events to help reach a larger audience! ​