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How to use Twitter

Love it or loathe it, Twitter is now part of our working lives. But this doesn’t mean it has to be an obsession. Use it effectively, and it needn’t take up huge chunks of your time, and can be the source of valuable contacts and information. Just make sure that you dip into it rather waste hours on it, and that you follow relevant people. It usually makes sense to follow those that follow you, but there is no obligation if you don’t like the sound of their business, after all there are some strange ones out there! Here are 12 other top tips from experts to help Twitter work for you:

1. Keep your name simple: Think carefully about your Twitter identity and what it says about you, in the same way that you are careful about your email address. “Although Twitter does allow you to change your Twitter handle, the more people there are on there, the less options that you’ll have. Take variations on your name and set them aside so no one else can use them and add to the confusion.” Ged Carroll, director of digital strategy at Ruder Finn

2. Don‘t say anything compromising: “Remember that your Twitter feed may come up top of a Google search, and could be the first thing new clients see of you. Offhand comments about your ‘disastrous day’ won’t fill anyone with confidence in your skills …” Beth Murray, account director, at PR firm Lansons Communications

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice: “You can put a plea out for views and opinions on the more emotive issues to get a feeling of what people think and also to get an explanation for a phenomena that you are not familiar with or simply get suggestions for a venue or a contact.” Rob Davies, consulting director at communications consultancy oneonone

4. It is more important to listen than to speak: “It is totally acceptable to be an inactive Tweeter, but it is essential to be following. To watch and learn from other brands – seeing what the latest digital campaigns are and keeping an eye on how global (and competitor) brands are interacting with their community.” Nik Thakkar, senior digital publicity manager at PR agency Exposure

5. Subscribe to journalist Twitter feeds: “Twitter is far more effective for me when I subscribe to journalists’ Twitter feeds. Often there will be a Twitter feed saying, ’I am looking for a quote on X or I am writing an article on Y can you help?’” Jeremy Walters, independent PR consultant

6. Chat with journalists, don’t overwhelm them: “Twitter is all about building relationships, and can be really useful for connecting with journalists. If you just use it as an avenue to bombard journalists with pitches, you’ll irritate people and quickly damage those relationships.” Beth Murray, account director, Lansons Communications

7. Be recognisable: “No one will follow an egg! Make sure you include a suitable picture and also your biog is completed – this is vital if you are at a conference/networking event and have been inspired by a Tweet and you want to find that person in the room.” Lara Leventhal, managing director, at PR agency Onlinefire

8. Manners matter: “Thank the RTs and acknowledge the DMs. Be generous with credit and stingy with spite.” David Gallagher chairman of Ketchum Pleon London and president, Ketchum Pleon Europe

9. Use TwitPic: “Once we’ve distributed a press release, we use TwitPic to provide images to accompany it. This means we don’t get on the wrong side of the media by emailing out an attachment and those that want to run the story can choose from a selection of images.” Alastair Turner, managing director of agency Aspectus PR

10. Take part in “Follow Fridays”: “Follow Fridays are one of the best ways of recommending people on Twitter as these tend to be trusted and taken on board. As such, make sure you look at who your followers are telling you to follow and make sure you are doing it too. Giving journalists a spotlight every Friday is also a nice way of strengthening relationships." Aaron Huckett, digital manager at PR agency Publicasity

11. Use Twitter to meet people face to face: “Look out for opportunities that you can get involved in such as networking meets and greets.” Pamela Lyddon, founder of digital agency Bright Star Digital

12, Keep it in perspective: “Remember it’s just one of many channels that can build your own or your business’s reputation and profile, don't ignore the real world.” Richard Watts, social media specialist at PR agency Brazil

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