Tweeting is an effective way to communicate, giving you the ability to broadcast your ideas in a public forum. But with great power comes great responsibility. Your tweets and posts can either enhance your brand, image and reputation- or have the reverse effect. There's a fine line between using it and abusing it, and it's very easy to damage your credibility in just a few keystrokes.

Whether you are an elected official, the head of an international corporation or the owner of a start-up, the rules of engagement are the same. Follow these etiquette tips to harness your power while avoiding the public pitfalls of Twitter.

Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

It's thrilling to know you can instantly share what's on your mind. However, social media should not be used to publish an endless stream of rants, ramblings and things you didn't think through. Even though Twitter forces brevity, there's still plenty of room to make a gaffe that will haunt you indefinitely. Once posted, it's out there forever.

Engage With Others

Twitter can help build relationships and connect you to others with similar interests. Think of Twitter as a conversation, not a place for you to publicize your thoughts with no regard for others. Interaction is the currency of Twitter.

You can build your following by developing a reputation as a source of useful, engaging information, which may include others whose posts you find valuable. When you share information from another source, make sure to give them credit when you retweet.

Don't Tweet When You're Angry

There's value in pausing before you tweet instead of immediately reacting. This is true in any part of life, but especially in social media. Your tweet will take on a life of its own.

Stay Humble

Don't let delusions of grandeur lead you to bad posting decisions. Your goals with each tweet should be to inform, entertain and stimulate conversation. Avoid self-promotion and shameless bragging.

Fact Check

Spreading inaccurate information will quickly backfire. Be cognizant that whatever you put out there is open to scrutiny, accuracy and truthfulness.

Check Your Spelling

Careless posting makes you look sloppy. Partially formed words, misspellings or poorly structured thoughts will not only confuse readers, but will also communicate something entirely different from what you intended. Don't make readers work to understand you.

It's fine to use sentence fragments when your meaning is clear (for example, dropping the "I am" when talking about what you are doing). Avoid using abbreviations or acronyms that may not be obvious. Don't be quick to post something you haven't had a chance to proofread.

Never Spam

It's not hard to identify people who are on Twitter to solely promote themselves or their business. If most of your posts are encouraging people to follow you or your business activities, you're not doing it right.

Don't follow people in the hopes they will follow you. Develop a following by tweeting genuinely helpful, thoughtful or interesting information. Your fan base will increase organically as you offer strong and valuable content.