How should businesses use Twitter? A ‘how to’ guide on tweeting

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations has recently published a guide on best practice for politicians when using Twitter. The guidelines are universal for any professional person or company, so we’ve adapted the guide slightly and produced a guide on tweeting. It can be daunting to join a social media platform, so we’ve gone right back to basics

What is a tweet? A tweet is a message that is posted onto Twitter, which is made up of 140 characters or less. Shorter tweets usually get a better engagement rate.

Twitter daily There is no set rule as to how often you should tweet. You can tweet about anything and everything as long as it is relevant and likely to keep people interested in reading your tweets.

Multimedia Tweets can include photos, links and videos. Wherever possible try and include media in your tweets; they are much more interesting than a constant stream of text. Bear in mind when including any of these media that they automatically use up 22 characters.

Pictures, videos and websites Sharing pictures, videos and websites is great but remember that at least 80% of Twitter users access the site using their mobile, so they won’t be able to look at big or complicated content as easily as they would on a bigger device. As well as creating content, you can share content that has been posted by other people by retweeting their tweet or tweeting links to interesting and relevant things. This is otherwise known as ‘content curation’.

Don’t just tweet, listen It is good idea to set up a series of searches to help you and your business have something to tweet about. Otherwise known as “intelligence gathering”, this will allow you to see what other people are talking about that are relevant to your business and your industry.

Conversations When starting a conversation or replying to a tweet, using @username will only allow people who follow you and the person you are talking to, to see the tweet. If the aim of the tweet is for everyone to see it, a full stop should go in front of the username to make Twitter think that it is not a conversation, however this only needs to be done if the name is at the start of the tweet and not if it is half way through. By including another person’s @username in your tweet, an automatic notification is sent to that person to let them know you have mentioned them in a tweet.

You can also retweet someone else’s tweet. This can be done by directly pressing the ‘retweet’ button or alternatively, you can use the ‘quote tweet’ button and add your own comment to the original tweet.

Your followers and who you are following It’s not completely necessary to follow absolutely everyone that you come across or even to follow every single person that follows you, however one of the main advantages of following someone back is that it then enables you and your follower to send direct messages to one another.

The use of hashtags Hashtags are simply words or phrases without any spaces that begin with the # symbol. Hashtags are for Twitter users to organise information and make it easier to share and find tweets based on hashtagged words.  It is best not to use too many hashtags per tweet and to keep the tweet as short as possible. By keeping the tweet short, it allows people to comment when retweeting your tweet.

Shortening links A link to another website that you may want to include in your tweet is likely to take up a lot of characters. Though Twitter usually shortens these automatically, sometimes it is best to use third-party services such as, so that not a lot of characters get used up and you can track clicks.