New to Twitter? Still learning how to build your following and engage existing followers? Twitter can be an incredibly useful tool, but it can easily become a wasted resource if you’re not using it correctly.
Here are 10 common Twitter mistakes your business should avoid:
1. Shameless Self-Promotion
Tweeting about your business is OK, as long as you’re doing so in moderation. As with all social media, Twitter is a medium for conversation. It’s important to be adding value to the general conversation.
If you’re tweeting the latest piece of useful content or pertinent event information, your followers will know how great you are without your having to say it outright.
2. Repeating Tweets
Twitter moves quickly. As of June 2012, Twitter was at 400 million tweets per day. With that many tweets streaming through your followers’ Twitter feeds, there is a great chance your tweet will be missed. Many businesses try to combat this by repeating the same tweet 50 times per day. That is just too much repetition and your followers will grow tired of you.
You want to make sure your followers are seeing your tweets, but you want to be cautious of too much repetition. If it’s a very important tweet and I want to make sure it is seen, I like to repeat it a couple times a day for a few days, but not much more.
3. ReTweeting Yourself
ReTweeting yourself equates to liking your own Facebook posts. We know you’re proud of the content you’re tweeting, you don’t need to retweet yourself to prove it. When you want to repeat a tweet, don’t be lazy. Find a new way to describe the content with each tweet.
As I mentioned above, you can repeat tweets in moderation. Take the time to compose a new tweet when re-sending the same link from an earlier tweet. Don’t just retweet yourself over and over again or you will lose followers.
4. ReTweeting Mentions of Your Own Brand
Somebody finally mentioned your brand on Twitter! This can be very exciting. A common response is to just retweet the great thing someone said about you. In the real world, would you go around repeating the compliments you’ve received? Probably not. Apply this same rule when using Twitter.
I would recommend that you reply to the person with a thank you and move-on. However, if you feel the mention contains content your followers might want to see, just make sure your retweet includes a thank you to the user who mentioned you.
5. Too Many Hashtags
Too many hashtags in a tweet is distracting and ineffective. Your tweet will come off looking spammy and consequently will be ignored. You want people to actually read what you’re tweeting, right?
Instead of stuffing your tweet with hashtags, pick one or two keywords that relate to your tweet and place those at the end with hashtags.
What Not to Do
6. Generic Questions
I see this all the time. Businesses will tweet a question like, “How’s your day going?” First of all, Twitter only allows for 140 characters. How are your followers going to respond to such an open-ended question in so few characters? And, what’s the point of your question?
You’re allowed to be casual and conversational on Twitter, but put some thought into the questions you want to ask and how you want to ask them. First, decide whether you want to keep things professional or be personal. Then, ask the questions that align with your Twitter strategy.
If you’re keeping it professional, stick to questions that pertain to industry-related topics:
“Our key takeaway from the #SmallBiz event? Balance professional and personal tweets. What did you learn? #socialmedia”
Leaning toward personal tweets? Ask a question that invites a response:
“We spent the morning @SmallBizTrends eating #bagels! What’d you eat for breakfast? #morningchatter”
7. Irregular Activity
When something big is happening to your business, it’s expected that you’ll be doing some extra tweeting. You could be ramping up your Twitter activity because you’re promoting an upcoming event, running a campaign, or publishing a white paper.
A common mistake, however, is to be absent from Twitter 80% of the year and then only show up when you have something you need to promote. Twitter is active year-round and you should be too. Regardless of whether it’s a busy time of year for you or not, you can always maintain a regular stream of activity and engagement.
Monitor feeds daily to participate in relevant conversations and re-share other’s useful content. That way, when it comes time to promote your own business, you can increase your activity and your followers will be more likely to help you spread the word.
8. Robot Posts
You’re busy. Your business is busy. You want to participate in social media, but you just don’t have the time. Enter the tweet scheduler. Numerous services allow you to schedule tweets ahead of time. This is a feature that can be very useful. I like to schedule tweets when I’m going on vacation or when there are a few things I want to make sure I promote in a timely manner.
Using a tweet scheduler too often, however, can start to make you look like a robot. Even when you’re using Twitter in a professional capacity, your followers want to know there is a person behind the tweets.
Schedule in moderation and inject some personality. Scheduling the same tweet for 10:01AM, 12:01PM, 2:01PM, and 4:01PM is a dead giveaway that you have relinquished your Twitter participation to a robot, and will hurt engagement.
9. Tweet Length
What could I possibly mean by tweet length? We’re already limited enough by the 140 characters, aren’t we?
Often, taking up the entire 140 characters limits your followers in their ability to retweet you and add a comment of their own. When possible, leave some characters unused to enable people to add their own commentary, @mentions, and hashtags when retweeting your content.
10. Misleading Link Descriptions
There is nothing more irritating than when you see an interesting tweet, click on the link, and find you’ve been taken to a completely unrelated page. We all want to see high click-through rates, high engagement, and large followings, but a misleading link description will only hurt your reputation.
You can be engaging without misleading your followers by composing a tweet that both attracts attention and relates to the link you’re sending out.
While there is no formula for Twitter success, avoiding some of these mistakes will certainly help you in your Twitter endeavors.
What are some common Twitter mistakes you’ve seen?
Twitter Photo via Shutterstock
These are really good tips. It seems to me that when businesses have twitter, they just tweet for the sake of tweeting. Half of the time the stuff they say isn’t really relevant to their business or their customers. Just like any other social media, companies need to monitor it and make sure it will improve their business.
Very good point, Brittanie. While there is an expectation these days that all companies should have a Twitter account, I think it’s better to be on it with a purpose. Thanks for your contribution!
Hmm. Thank you for sharing, though I disagree with one of the points you made about asking open minded questions but I don’t want to go into details. One way you can also take your small biz to the next level is by http://goo.gl/hlgcM
Great list. I agree with most of it, but not the one that says you shouldn’t automate. I believe a smart way to get Followers and more engagement is to be consistently on Twitter. It’s just not possible to be on Twitter organically all day long. Thus, share scheduled tweets at set intervals and also post organic tweets thru the day as the mood strikes you.
Otherwise you might make the mistake of tweeting a bunch of times in a row, then disappearing for the rest of the day.
Thanks for reading and I appreciate your comment. To clarify, I’m all for a scheduler. I think it’s important that tweets are diversified and have a personal voice. As you suggest, a combination between scheduled and organic tweets throughout the day is ideal.
I agree with you both! A scheduler is a situational thing; what might be apples to a business marketing itself may be oranges to another user.
I manage social media for a local events and entertainment guide, primarily using it to support our print content. Each morning I schedule about a half dozen “core” tweets on everything from events to sports to nightlife. A pattern does emerge from giving (or at least trying to give) our followers some lead time. But I do fill in around these with more long range information, relevant RTs and the odd bit of fun. Keeping an eye on the feed and reacting promptly and appropriately goes without saying — we receive a lot of tips and questions via Twitter.
I’ve tried doing this without the help of Tweetdeck and well, to be blunt, it royally sucked.
It’s not bad to automate your tweets. Thus, it helps you gain and increase your presence on it. You are right Ilana. The mix of scheduled and organic tweets will be a better and effective way. We always believe that the natural will always stand out.
Great advice! In addition to keeping your hashtags to a minimum, I would add that it’s important to do a little research on a hashtag before you use it–run a search to see how other people are using the keyword and check to see if it is associated with another business, news story or event.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the risks of hashtags at my agency’s blog in response to #McDStories: http://www.cookerlypr.com/2012/01/do-you-own-your-tweets.html
Holly, I couldn’t agree more. I have seen so many badly used, misused, and wasted hashtags (#business, anyone?).
Thanks, Holly! You bring up a great point. I’ve seen companies fail to research their hashtag and accidentally align their tweet with a completely unrelated topic. Thank you for sharing!
Ana Lucia Novak
Love how well written, succinct your post is, as well as how you provided visual examples. I love Twittet and find that it is useful for finding great resources, staying up to date on world and local news and for being able to integrate tools like CrowdBooster, Commun.it to really know who is engaging with your content I think it is important to know how to respond to retweets and mentions to keep connection going.
Thanks so much, Ana Lucia. Tools like Hootsuite and Crowdbooster can definitely help your ability to monitor conversations, respond, retweet, and engage.
How about not putting the author’s twitter account directly on the byline of an amazing article, so people can thank her directly on twitter without having to go look her up ? 😀
Yes, typically that would be a good practice 🙂 SmallBiz places the author byline at the bottom of each article, which includes all of my social networks. Thanks for reading!
This is a fantastic post, Ilana. I see many of the things that you mention. A Twitter pet peeve of mine is using too many hastags. I think that is so annoying and unnecessary.
I also don’t like repeating tweets. I think these are spammy. If you have a blog post that you want to promote with several tweets throughout the day, try taking snippets of some of the sentences in your post and using them as your status update. I do this often and it’s worked well for getting more traffic to my posts, without tweeting out the same text.
Thanks for sharing this great post with the community. I appreciate it!
Great input on the repeat-topic. I personally resent duplicates. It’s like recieving the same newsletter a couple of days in a row. But your aproach is, as I see it, a win-win.
Nice reading Ilana, thanks for sharing!
These are great blunders to point out! I’ve been Tweeting so long, it amazes me that so many companies still make them, but you’re right: they’re newbie mistakes. But unless you correct them, they’ll be patterns too!
This is a great list…I think its important for businesses to also tweet on the weekends. I think many limit their social media posts to a typical work week, but most people have more time to actually read and engage over the weekend.
Tech support running 24/7 is fine to tweet anytime — clubs or promoting concerts are fine for late-night tweeting. But if a business is 40 hours/week, yet tweets weekends, that irks me. Only tweet when your business is open.
Great points Ilana. I liked the points raised in Items 5 and 7. Too often I’ve seen Tweeters use more than needed hastags to the point where their tweet looks like a picket fence. For Item 7, consistency is key. Having a set schedule (with some organic tweets as necessary) makes the most sense.
Thanks for the great advice!
The hash tags are really annoying. I try to limit to 1 or 2 researched hash tags. I believe an auto scheduler is very important to post branded messages but using your mobile device on the go to tweet adds more personality and is easy.
Also, a mix of branded to non-branded tweets work best. I proposed this to a client that had all branded messages in his calendar. He didn’t understand what I meant lol. Whatever niche you are focusing on, its good practice to share and retweet relevant information. This practice builds relationships and value added.
Hi Ilana Bercovitz,
Great post! Tons of useful information on using Twitter properly. Number 5 about hash tags was my favorite. This is a rule that should be kept in mind for personal tweets as well.
Cheers – Stefan Martinez
Leaving space at the end of a tweet is something I’ve not thought to look out for, that’s a great tip. Having our follows retweet our tweets is fantastic promotion for us.
One thing that I like to do is to provide potential customers on twitter is with tips on shopping. One thing that I see a lot on twitter is the endless links back to their site. Some send as many 1 link every 10 to 15 minutes which is way too much.
Thanks for the tips!
It’s true that the points from the list can give negative influence on your business, so they should be avoided.