Social Media BirdOne of the advantages of social media in general and Twitter in particular is the ease of publishing and the speed of getting your message out to the multitudes. Watch out though: this benefit can quickly turn into a disadvantage because off-the-cuff remarks or swift comebacks can undermine your brand’s core message. Of course, you don’t want to overthink your communications either because the shelf-life of a tweet can be very, very brief when 500 million tweets are published every day.

In light of this, what are some good rules of thumb to consider as you prepare to post your next tweet?

1. Does it make sense?

Sometimes when speaking to a defined group, writers use specialized language that is not decipherable to a broader group. Look at your tweet and ask yourself, “Will the average reader be able to understand it?”

It is important to use language that draws people in and encourages interaction. Inside jokes can be fun and strengthen a group’s identity, but Twitter may not be the most appropriate venue for those types of posts. And the character constraints of Twitter can also make for awkward phrasing, so consider that. For example: if U hav 2 abbreviate 2 many words, U may need 2 rethink UR post.

2. Does it need a visual?

Images and videos help tell your story. Use them if you’d like to increase the likelihood that your tweet will be re-tweeted or if you’d like more engagement. The images you use don’t have to be branded or specifically related to your product. You may use images that evoke an emotion or a strong response relevant to the content of your tweet.

3. Is there room for others to manually retweet it?

In the Twitter-verse, there are many ways to retweet or repost others’ tweets. Getting shares of your post means more people see it. So it’s important that you leave enough room so that when someone clicks “retweet,” your post doesn’t get cut off (remember: “RT @UserName” will be added to what you’ve already written, so leave room for it.)

4. Does it add value to your brand?

There are many brands on Twitter and many voices calling for attention. They often will recycle a banal joke in the attempt to get more likes and retweets, but is it worth it? Your followers have limited time and limited attention spans. Do you really want to waste those precious moments on re-treading an old flop? Evaluate whether or not the tweet boosts your brand. Don’t just tweet any old thing to fill a quota. Make sure that your posts contribute to the lively and fascinating habitat of Twitter.

5. Does it appeal to your target audience?

The possible ways to engage an audience are numerous, but the ways to engage with your specific audience are less so. You must focus on methods that attract your specific audience. It’s great to have a large following on Twitter, but if it is made up mostly of bots or people who only use the social networking service once in a while, are you getting the most out of Twitter? Define your target audience and focus on creating content that will grab their attention and entice their loyalty.

6. Is it engaging?

Analyze your tweet rigorously. Ask yourself, “What is the point of the tweet?”

Is it to help your audience find and use a resource? Is to encourage your audience to visit your website and see a new product? Or is it about building rapport and trust? There are many reasons to tweet, but it is most important that you have a specific goal in generating your post, so that the post has an objective.

7. What is the response I’d like?

You can’t be disappointed with the outcome of a tweet if you never establish goals for it. Have in mind what you want people to do: comment, share, or otherwise engage, so you can measure results appropriately.