The 10 Commandments of Twitter, one of our favorite sources for the newest trends in social media, did some research on Twitter use and abuse by marketers, and compiled a list of ground rules that every company ought to follow while working in the Twittersphere.

Remember one of the grounding principles of marketing – look through the eyes of the consumer. Even the best marketers seem to forget this concept when caught up in the ease of self-aggrandizement and tempt of self-promotion in every Tweet of the enter key. Mashable went to real Twitter users, the general public who has engaged with brands on Twitter, to find out what consumers are really looking for in a brand Tweet.

What did they find? Well, surprise: people know that brands aren’t people. They hold brands to a standard different from the code “normal” users should follow. Here are the most fundamental rules Mashable has compiled. We like to think of them as “The 10 Commandments of Twitter”

  1. Thou shalt not show off! Want to talk about your features, and even better, your benefits? Great. Should you mention special deals you’re running? Definitely. Tempted to post links to your latest press releases, articles your CEO wrote or extravagant claims full of superlative adjectives? Don’t do it! This isn’t the place. Ask yourself this question: “If I didn’t work here, would I really care?” If you wouldn”t care, then they won’t care.
  2. Thou shalt not forget to spell check! Who cares about a little poor grammar here or misspelling there? Oh trust me, they care. It only takes an extra few seconds to reread those 140 characters. So just do it! There’s nothing more unprofessional than a stupid typo. Write words out in their entirety, keep abbreviations to a minimum, and use your LOLs sparingly.
  3. Thou shalt not get too personal! As a consumer, it’s great to sense an individual and real touch behind a company, but for heaven’s sake, don’t get creepy with this thing. Warm but professional is the mantra. Remember, you’re a brand ambassador; users expect you to talk about what’s relevant – which is your brand’s relationship with the consumer. And let’s just leave it at that.
  4. Thou shalt not auto-Tweet! Planning ahead is a great strategy; go right ahead and set up Tweets to roll out when you know you’ll be away from your desk. But don’t script the conversation! Users aren’t dumb, and they’ve got a keen nose for fake spontaneity. Don’t automate an entire feed to stream into your account. This is social media, after all; you’re supposed to talk WITH them, not AT them.
  5. Thou shalt not give the silent treatment! When you’re pitching a volley of @replies back and forth, leaving a day or two between messages is not cool. Users want an answer, and they want it NOW. OK, well at least within a few hours is reasonable – before they forget what you were talking about in the first place.
  6. Thou shalt not over-Tweet! We’ll say it again – this is a conversation; not a one-way broadcast system.  If you’re simply looking for a way to shout at people, there are plenty of other platforms out there. But if you’d like to engage directly with your followers, well now you’re onto something with this Twitter thing. Whatever you do, just don’t overdo it – you don’t want to make spam out of yourself.
  7. Thou shall reciprocate shout outs! Everyone likes to be noticed and appreciated, so when someone shows your brand some Twitter love, take advantage of that opportunity to build a bridge by Tweeting thanks, tips or promotions. They’ll probably appreciate it. When dealing with negative comments, just stay empathetic but professional.
  8. Thou shall monitor keywords and competitors! It’s your job to be on the lookout for potential and available users. Look for people expressing issues with your competitors or inquiring about your vertical; they have already shown interest, all you have to do now  is seal the deal. Scoping out the market is a great way to gain new fans, convert seekers into customers and become a knowledgeable and responsive resource in your industry.
  9. Thou shall make an informative profile! Your company or brand logo should be your avatar, and your purpose for the account should be stated clearly in your description. Simple! You can direct followers through your profile’s main link to the most informative, engaging and user-friendly part of your Web site.
  10. Thou shall go to where the customer are! Should every brand or company need to have a Twitter profile? No. Should every brand monitor Twitter? Probably. But be realistic about your industry and your audience. If your demographic thinks LOL, ROFL and <3 are typos, or if your product is more sensitive or personal, then you may want to spend more time people watching than people interacting on Twitter.
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