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Twitter Best Practices:

1.   Be a real person. Use humor and/or empathy to create short, sweet, casual, interesting, compelling, insightful, "insider" message with a friendly tone.

2.   Check your facts before you tweet.

3.   Pay attention to replies, answer questions and engage in conversation - people love that you are a real person. (see #1)

4.   Shorten the URLs that you post links to with a url shortener like http://cli.gs or http://sn.im/. Give URLs context so that users trust it is a good link.

5.   Search for your agency name or acronym to learn of users’ good/bad experiences, and respond to them.

6.   If you have RSS feeds on your regular website or blogs, consider pushing the headlines to Twitter. There are many tools that let you set time increments for how often you want the feed to push to twitter. Many of these tools also give you demographic information, letting you see who’s interested in your content and what topics are more appealing.  

7.   Consider establishing multiple accounts to represent your agency. This can be very helpful for local audiences who are interested in very local information (for instance, it’s highly valuable for a state agency to have someone who knows about projects in a local area).

a.   A person as the face of the agency

b.   Agency account.

8.   Get a developer in your IT shop to learn the Twitter API, which will help you introduce:





·        Direct messaging features - http://wsdot.wa.gov/inform/twitter/, including delivering direct messages to an agency e-mail account for response as needed.

·        Records retention/Public Records Request (options include downloading xml for your tweets daily for records retention or using a service like TwitterMail or TwInbox which lets you automate record retention by using e-mail)

·        Back up your Twitter account



Timing is everything

1.   Do not put important messages out on a Friday. Twitter has many more visitors Monday – Thursday, with the highest traffic on Wednesday and Thursday. TweetRush can help you with determining the best time to tweet your message.

2.   If you do, retweet a variation of it on the following Monday. Tweets get easily lost.


Track your tweets – are you reaching your audience?

  1. Track where your tweets are going and how many impressions they have made.  TweetReach tracks how your tweet traveled and how many others retweeted your tweet. It becomes viral. Other tracking tools are:  Twitter Analyzer, Radian 6 (paid service)



Security Concerns

1.   Use a very strong password for your account and change it often.

2.   Don't click on another users short url unless they have given it fair context and you trust their source.

3.   Don't retweet a shortened url unless you have verified the link.



Additional Resources:

Twitter Cheat Sheet: http://portfolio.ginaminks.com/job_aides/twitter_cheat_sheet.pdf


Visual Map of Twitter: http://applicant.com/wpcontent/




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Comments (2)

Mary Maher said

at 5:00 pm on Jul 22, 2009

Some things to consider adding: DO embed hashtags in your tweets when practical to target your posts to topical interests, improve the findability of your material, and to reach communities that organize around specific topics. Do assess its use and value to your agency over time (although that should be a separate section with more specifics).

bryanwklein said

at 7:09 pm on Jul 22, 2009

I would like to see a standard practice at Government hosted public meetings and/or conferences to generate a list of hash-tags to be used and post them on the conference announcement web page prior to the event.
These tags are usually made up on the fly the day of the event, and sometimes conflict with existing hash tags that other twitter groups might be using. Keep the tags short and unique as much as possible.

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