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Business users coming to Twitter receive some advice that may not help them in the long run. Here’s an alternative view. 

I have now composed over 12,000 Tweets. Laid end to end, they’d make a decent-sized book. A really boring, intensely repetitive book about eating soup, last night’s TV and, from time to time, a little bit of copywriting.

When it comes to Tweeting, I’ve earned my stripes. 

I’m not saying I’m a ‘social media expert’. But I do find that my experience clashes with some of the received wisdom about using Twitter for business. Here are five pinches of salt to go with some of the stuff you might read online. 

Don’t chase followers

This advice is usually linked to the idea that you should build the quality of your network, rather than its size. I agree with that, but it needs to be qualified. 

Firstly, a small network isn’t necessarily good, nor is a large one necessarily bad. Secondly, it’s important to remember that gaining (real) followers shows you’re doing something right – as does maintaining a positive follower/following ratio (i.e. you follow fewer people than follow you). 

Specifically, it means you’re expanding your reach beyond your ‘expected’ network, which I think is well worth ‘chasing’ – particularly if it makes you think more deeply about the quality and appeal of your Tweets. 

Write an informative bio

Again, this needs qualification. If you want to build your network in the way I’ve just described, go ahead and cram your cv into your bio, plus hashtags. Just be aware that this is a very orthodox route for professionals, so it won’t necessarily make you stand out from the crowd. 

Three words: less is more. Instead of desperately stuffing your bio with content, aim for a single killer headline or slogan that will really hit home. That’s what many casual and/or anonymous users do, and they’re all the more interesting for it.

Remember, you’ve got a URL right beside your bio. The right balance of information and intrigue will make people more likely to click through and find out who you are – at which point you’ve got your whole homepage to show them why you’re worth following.

If you put all the goods in the bio, will anyone bother to click?

Don’t mix personal and professional

Behind every corporate Twitter account is a person. Sometimes, it’s obvious who that person is. If it’s a corporate account, it may have a logo-avatar and present itself as ‘the brand talking’, and it may not be clear who is actually Tweeting. (It may be one of several people.)

But if the account is being used in the right way (live, responsive, non-automated), each Tweet is composed by an individual – a human being with feelings, thoughts and opinions. 

Brands are what people think about them, both inside and outside the business. For corporates, I believe that the right Twitter tone is the values of the brand expressed through the words of an individual. And it brings life to a brand when at least some corporate Tweets have a personal flavour. 

It makes me intrigued about what lies behind that brand – how people relate to it, interpret it and integrate it into their working lives. And it’s equally as interesting for a one-person startup as it is for a major corporate.

Tweet regularly

You can always get attention by whipping the workshy. Blog every day! Tweet every hour! Build your brand! 

If only social success really was just a matter of application. I don’t know about you, but I can tell from a mile away when a post has been written out of obligation rather than inspiration. That’s why I make a point of waiting until I have something worth saying before I hit the keyboard (hence my protracted absence from this blog *cough*). 

Some days, my Twitter feed is a flurry of snappy comebacks, multi-RTd aperçus and rockin’ industry insight. Other days, I’m just too busy, distracted or tired to post anything decent. So I stay away. 

Believe me, whatever followers you lose as a result of a few days’ inactivity weren’t worth having in the first place. 

Don’t Tweet old links

One of my aims at my own blog is to build a body of work that can stand the test of time. I do write quickfire, reactive, current-issue posts, but I also try to create non-timebound content that will have lasting value: considered opinion pieces, detailed how-tos, in-depth analyses.

For me, it’s about having a blog that’s more like an encyclopedia and less like a box of old newspapers. 

‘Eternal’ content requires more effort up front – I would estimate four or five times the time commitment for the same number of words. But it pays far richer dividends later on. It gets linked to long after publication, and people, including its author, can carry on Tweeting it too. 

Personally, I would rather share (or indeed read) a high-quality older post than a mediocre newer one. You can flag it ‘from the archives’ or even ‘classic post’ if you’re nervous. But don’t be afraid to mine your content for all its minerals. 


Published 20 March, 2012 by Tom Albrighton

Tom Albrighton is a copywriter and contributor to Econsultancy. He blogs here and tweets here. You can also add Tom to your Google+ circles. 

16 more posts from this author

Comments (4)


Mark Bolitho

Hi Tom

I think the 'old link' point can be bent - I did just that yesterday, Tweeting an old Get Elastic study on checkout best practice, and comparing it with current stuff.

As long as it's given a context I'd suggest Tweeting old stuff, both first and third party, can actually be quite interesting.


over 4 years ago

Eric Layland

Eric Layland, President at Canna Ventures

Howdy Tom,
110% agreement here. There's too much confusion that "doing social media" is being social - BIG difference. At the end of the day - last I checked - we're humans with different styles. My belief is that we embrace what is unique about our own communication styles and not be afraid to take an extra step to see what happens ever so often. What's the worst that can happen...someone stops following you?

Tweeting old stuff, new stuff, rapid burst, quite days, big ideas, passing along links to articles, professional commentary, off the cuff comments at while having a pint on Friday night...all good as long as it's genuine.

I say this in the context of both personal and brand/corporate tweets. Be as responsive as is appropriate for the situation. Don't follow a formula, be real.

over 4 years ago


Clyde Smith

Solid post but it's also a reminder that different people need to take different paths.

For instance, one of the thinks I like about Adrian Fusiarski is that he'll sometimes tweet links to things people have written a year or two back because it's still relevant to what's happening now and a good source. He's one of my favorite music industry linkmasters:

But that wouldn't work if you're known for breaking news.

I also totally mix personal and professional though I try not to do a lot of chatting on Twitter. But that's because I'm building my brand as a writer/personality. I know that limits some of my following now but it's a long term project.

On the other hand, I do some more tightly focused twitter feeds for specific projects that never go off-topic and only relate the personal if it's really strongly connected to the professional.

But I look at your Twitter feed and it seems to have a lot of what I would consider personal content. Lots of individual comments and personal opinion. So, to me, you're mixing personal and professional but I'm guessing you consider those comments part of your professional role.

Nice to see how you think about what you're doing. I think having a consistent approach might be the most important thing of all.

over 4 years ago


Tina Webb

Hi Tom
A refreshingly common sense approach! Say something when there is something to be said! Cutting through the 'I had toast for breakfast'chatter is time consuming and let's face it, quite banal! A good post.

over 4 years ago

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