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 https://bit.ly/9wzSVT​ 
    less than 20 seconds ago​ via bit.ly

    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... http://bit.ly/bw​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
    http://stackoverflow.com/feeds/user/11799

  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 https://bit.ly/cPD0vg :) Thanks Brian...
    7:30 AM Mar 8th
    via bit.ly

    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 bit.ly at http://bit.ly/aC5Lb2
    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) a tag. 

    Tips for companies

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

    hashtag-stream.jpg
    Figure: On www.ssw.com.au/ssw/netug 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 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.

    Examples of hashtags

    • ​​#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 spamers rely on:

    http://twb.ly/1uJtUG
    Figure: Bad example - You don't know where this is going

    When you can, take the more readable option:

    http://twibbon.com/join/Scotland
    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.

    image
    Figure: Good example – the application does the heavy lifting for you

  9. Do you use TweetDeck to read Twitter?

    If you are looking to get the most out of your Twitter experience, you will need to use a Twitter client. SSW recommends TweetDeck. 
     Recently the Twitter website has been updated to enrich the Twitter experience, but you still can’t easily be notified about topics that you are interested in.

    Bad Example : Using the Twitter webpage is not the best way to use Twitter.
    Bad Example : Using the Twitter webpage is not the best way to use Twitter

    The best way to use Twitter is to use the TweetDeck client. This allows alerts you when your are mentioned or direct messaged, and allows you to keep an eye on certain things you are interested in, like #hyperv or #ssw.


    Good Example : Using TweetDeck gives you a dashboard to follow topics you are interested in
    You can download TweetDeck here: http://www.tweetdeck.com/
  10. 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: www.example.com

    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?
  11. 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…
  12. 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
  13. 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 https://dev.twitter.com/web/embedded-timelines​ to view instructions on creating your embedded Twitter timeline.

    ​​​sswtv-twitterbox.jpg
    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​

  14. 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. 

    social-media-analysis.jpg
    Figure: using spreadsheet software like MS Excel is an easy way to track your success

  15. 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.

    watch-video-facebook.png
    Figure: Good Example - Take the Facebook visitor to watch your video
  16. 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
  17. 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. 
  18. 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. 

  19. 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. 

    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. 

  20. 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.​

    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
  21. 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
  22. 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:

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

  23. 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, LinkedIn, twitter, app.net and google+. 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 up to a week, 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: When an URLn is included in the post, Buffer prefills the text and content and allows you to cycle through which image from the page you'd like to use (or not use one at all)

    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.

    Hashtags: Hashtags are used across social sites such as twitter, Facebook and google+ 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 bit.ly to shorten URLs. You can create custom URLs at no cost by joining bit.ly 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 bit.ly and URL shortening, check out Rules to Better bit.ly

  24. 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.

    linkedin-links.jpg
    Figure: Use the "Link" button in your profile "edit mode" to include the URLs for the main services your provide
    linkedin-url-bad.jpg
    Figure: Bad example - Profile with no links
    linkedin-url-good.jpg
    Figure: Good example - Profile with links to main services provided
  25. 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 .