By Tara Turkington

With about 238-million “monetisable daily active users”, Twitter may not be the world’s biggest social media platform but it remains one of the most influential – especially when it comes to breaking news and sparking important conversations.

South Africa has about a tenth of those active accounts, with 2.85-million – a relatively small but vocal audience that can be harnessed to a brand’s benefit if approached strategically.

Here are 20 tips from Flow Communications for brands and individuals to optimise their Twitter accounts:

  1. Tweet regularly
    If you want to entrench an influential presence on Twitter and gain a decent following, you need to tweet often – at least once a day and ideally more often.
  2. Tweet authentic content that is relevant to you or your brand
    Bear in mind your brand’s personality – playful or serious, for example – and stick to that tone when tweeting. Select content strategically to suit your brand or business purpose.
  3. Use pictures
    Twitter – like Instagram – is a very visual medium, and all tweets should be accompanied by one or more images. Plus, you can tag up to 10 accounts in photos, extending the potential reach of your posts and getting conversations going.
  4. Don’t bother (much) about video
    While some video ads and viral videos might hit the mark on Twitter, for the most part video content fares poorly on this platform – and you can’t (yet) tag other accounts on videos.
  5. Take note of trending hashtags
    Up to 60% of a brand’s social media content should be planned, but leave space for unplanned or “tactical” content – monitoring trending hashtags and joining topical conversations, where relevant. Check out for the day’s top hashtags.
  6. Find and converse with people on Twitter
    Seek out accounts that mirror your interests (or tie in with your business’s activities) and join relevant conversations. Twitter chats are great for initiating conversations with like-minded brands and individuals, and for positioning yourself as an influencer in a particular sphere.
  7. Connect via direct message
    Struggling to get hold of someone? Pop them a DM (direct message). Chances are they’ll respond if they check their Twitter notifications and messages regularly.
  8. Use Twitter analytics to ascertain your progress
    Twitter has some great free analytics tools to help you determine which tweets are faring best and to get a handy overview of how your account is performing overall.
  9. Proactively follow interesting people
    Follow high-profile personalities and accounts that correlate with your interests and those of your business – who knows, they might just follow you back!
  10. Respond when people @mention you
    It’s polite and courteous to respond with a comment, a retweet or a like if people tag you in their tweets – unless it’s in a negative context, in which case you should divert the conversation to DMs. For outright racist or sexist comments, block the troll.
  11. Use Twitter polls and ask questions
    Twitter thrives on engagement, so make use of Twitter polls to ask simple questions of your followers. The polls are a great way to encourage interaction, especially with playful topics.
  12. Come up with a hashtag for campaigns
    Devise a short, simple and punchy hashtag for each campaign, so its performance is easily trackable. Check to make sure the hashtag is unique, so your results are campaign-specific.
  13. Use Twitter threads for long-form content
    Got more to say than 280 characters will allow? Use a Twitter thread – a series of successive tweets on the same post – to delve into a topic in more detail and depth.
  14. Compile a content plan
    Plan your Twitter content in advance each month, making provision for ad hoc or tactical posts as well. Devise content pillars to keep the mix lively, interesting and engaging for your followers while enhancing and promoting your brand.
  15. Use defined hashtags for days of the week
    People often think of Twitter as a negative platform, but it’s home to a lot of love, kindness and smiles, too. Tap into day-specific hashtags such as #MotivationMonday, #ThrowbackThursday, #FriYay and even #Caturday to harness those positive vibes.
  16. Use Twitter ads sparingly
    Unless you have deep enough pockets to do a Twitter buyout for the trend of the day, don’t waste your advertising budget on Twitter ads. In our experience, they seldom work. Rather put your digital spend behind other platforms.
  17. Never tweet when drunk or angry
    This might seem obvious, but remember that Twitter is a public platform and reputations can be destroyed very easily with just a single ill-conceived tweet.
  18. Don’t be afraid to block people
    If you’re being trolled, don’t waste any time – block, block, block! You can also mute certain accounts and words for a more pleasant and less anxiety-inducing Twitter timeline.
  19. Create branded hashtags
    If you have a particular offering you’d like to promote, create a branded hashtag for it. That way, people who are interested can easily find what they’re looking for simply by searching for it on Twitter.
  20. Follow people back
    Unless you are Elon Musk or King Charles III (and can therefore afford to ignore the plebs), if people follow you, follow them back. It’s a sign of courtesy and respect. Of course, if it’s very obviously a bot or fake account, ignore it.

Tara Turkington (@taraturk1 on Twitter) is the CEO of Flow Communications, one of South Africa’s leading independent agencies. Founded in 2005, Flow now has a permanent team of over 60 professional staff, with more than 700 years of collective experience in marketing and communications.