Last week we lost one of the best-loved film critics and most popular Tweeters, Roger Ebert. MediaBistro has a great writeup of Ebert’s Twitter philosophy, outlining his “Eight Rules for Using Twitter.” Let’s take a look and examine what made Ebert so successful in social media, and how you can apply it to your own posts.
1. “I tweet in basic English.”
Make sure your audience can understand you. Pretty straightforward, really. It’s not that hard to proofread, even in 140 characters.
2. “I avoid abbreviations and ChatSpell.”
It’s hard to use text speak and look professional. Of course, sometimes the character limit forces you to commit grammar or spelling atrocities, but avoid it when you can. This is your brand, not a text to your bestie.
3. “I go for complete sentences.”
Again, it simply looks more professional. Your thoughts and ideas come across clearer. People will be thinking about what you said, instead of puzzling out what you meant.
4. “I try to make my links worth a click.”
Again, self-explanatory. As we’ve said numerous times, content is king. If you are posting interesting material, you won’t have trouble finding an audience.
5. “I am not above snark, no matter what I may have written in the past.”
Twitter is, as Ebert described, “a running conversation.” It’s okay to crack wise, but make sure you’re not being mean or unprofessional.
6. “I tweet my interests, including science and politics, as well as the movies.”
This one is not one I’d recommend applying literally—tweeting politics from a brand account can lead to sticky situations if you offend or annoy your constituency. However, don’t be afraid to tweet interesting tidbits from other areas that are relevant to your brand. If you’re an educational organization, how about tweeting a cool piece of science news? If you’re a gardening business, why not tweet that cool viral video somebody made doing tricks with a garden hose?
7. “I try to keep links to stuff on my own site down to around 5 or 10%.”
Constant self promotion gets obnoxious, even though that may be why you got into social media in the first place. You have to make sure you’re having a good volume of conversations, as well as publishing relevant content from other sources in addition to your own.
8. “I try to think twice before posting.”
This is just good, solid common sense. Ask yourself “does this need to be said?” before you tweet. If the answer is no, don’t tweet it.
Rest in peace, Roger. We’ll miss you.