Last week, Stephen Fry, one of Twitter’s highest-profile users, threatened to leave Twitter. What brought about this drastic decision? A follower accused him of being boring. Being boring is the cardinal sin on the micro-blogging site that lets you broadcast your latest insight or brainwave as it occurs to you. Being boring is surprisingly easy on Twitter. Anyone who has ‘unfollowed’ someone on Twitter (and felt the obligatory pang of guilt at doing so) will know that many tweets are downright boring. Many are both boring and pointless. A case in point is the seamless transition of the dreaded “I’m on the train!” from the mobile phone to the Twitter app.
In the wrong hands, Twitter has almost limitless potential for causing toe-curling and hand-wringing in equal measure. The key is knowing when to start, and when to stop. Type out your Tweet then re-read it a few times. Do you really want to send it? If you decide it really isn’t as witty, earth-shattering or insightful as you first though, don’t post it. By the same token, if you wouldn’t say you’re thinking out loud in a packed room of strangers, don’t tweet it.
These commonsense rules of thumb are also a useful guide for tweeting for your business. It’s perhaps even easier to be boring about your business on Twitter. However, targeted, judicious, and above all, relevant tweets can be a powerful vehicle for representing your company online.
Crucially, a decent Twitter presence can position your business as an opinion former in your sector. Show people you’re an expert, but make sure you’re giving them information they actually want and need in your tweets. If you do this, they will follow you, retweet you and boost your following. If a news story that’s relevant to your area hits the headlines, tweet about it and make sure your take on the issue is known.
Most importantly of all, remember that Twitter is not just a series of spontaneous thoughts in an online context. It’s all about a two-way – or even multi-way – conversation. If your tweets can encourage a response, generate comment or provoke debate from the people who follow you, you are halfway to raising your profile and cementing your online presence. As part of a coordinated PR campaign spanning online and print media, Twitter has boundless potential if used properly. Just think before you Tweet.