As a freelance writer by trade, I learn new things every day in my role as a WideFoc.us community manager (CM). Although authenticity is always important for connecting with a social media audience, administering a branded account for a client is still quite different from the way many of us use Twitter for our personal online identities. Below is a list of five best practices for managing a branded presence on Twitter that every CM should know, even if you're just entering the profession. 1. Avoid beginning a tweet with a handle. It's quite common for Twitter users to start a tweet with a handle, but it can actually have a negative effect on visibility. Twitter, in its infinite wisdom, only allows those tweets to be seen by mutual followers. That's why you'll see some people start tweets with a period. We like our tweets to be elegant and readable, so we always start with a word. For example, "Hi, @active_follower, thank you for the RT!" is a little more personable than "@active_follower Thanks for the RT!" 2. If you quote a tweet, be sure to add something to it. The types of social media management software frequently used for managing branded accounts make it easier to quote a tweet instead of merely retweeting it. Some software only allows you to schedule retweets for the future if they are quoted tweets. Retweets can only occur in real-time, which is slightly less convenient than scheduling them ahead of time. Whenever possible I prefer to quote a tweet and add a comment, in order to drum up additional engagement from the retweet for both the original poster and me. 3. Avoid prepackaged greetings and auto-DMs for your client's new followers. Nothing turns off a branded account's followers like spam, perceived or otherwise. Few Twitter users want to receive a notification, only to discover a DM similar to the one below in their inboxes: "Hi @username, thanks for the follow! We hope you enjoy our information and updates. Check out our blog." ...It's spammy, inauthentic, and just plain tacky. 4. Include usernames/handles in your tweets whenever appropriate. Directly mentioning other Twitter users in posts helps build relationships and open new communication channels. It can also strengthen a social media community by alerting followers that they have at least one thing in common: your client! It's a great way for users to discover common goals or interests that otherwise may not come to their attention. 5. Shorten all URLs. This may seem obvious, but I constantly see tweets, including some from branded accounts, that include full-length URLs. In addition to looking cleaner, shortened URLs leave more room for content and make your posts more retweetable. They're also more easily trackable for reporting.
You've probably realized that as a CM, it's your job to build authentic engagement in the client's social media community, maintain a strong, growing network, and avoid adopting a "market-y" tone. However, it's just as important to know these (sometimes unspoken) rules so that you can represent the brand as professionally as possible. Have fun! —by Erin Maes Erin Maes is a is a lifelong writer who is passionate about language, communications, storytelling, and how they differ across mediums and platforms. She joined the WideFoc.us team in 2013.