Top 10 Twitter Mistakes

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Twitter is often the most difficult of all social networks for marketers and businesses to navigate. This is because it has a very unique and specific culture, with unique etiquette and expectations. Marketing on Twitter isn’t like posting an ad or even posting a Facebook update. It’s more like constantly being a part of a never-ending stream of high-speed communications.

In some ways, Twitter marketing is all about systems and habits. It’s all about how you consistently do the things you need to do in order to expand your follower base, build trust and increase revenues. Unfortunately, a lot of people have bad systems and habits that either don’t work or make them look like spammers.

Here are ten of the most common mistakes people make on Twitter. Making these mistakes can reduce your profits, make you look like a spammer and most importantly can alienate your audience.

Mistake #1: Quantity Over Quality

On Twitter, it’s common for people to measure their success by the number of followers they have or the number of retweets they get. It can be a lot more exciting to see 100,000 people following you than 1000, but what if that 1000 are the 1000 people who really matter?

When it comes to building a business, the number of followers you have is not the best indicator of how you’re doing on Twitter. After all, if all you wanted were followers, you could simply buy several thousand of them for a fiver.

What really matters with Twitter is engagement. The more you engage with them, the more likely people are to…

  • Retweet your content to their network
  • Visit your site and buy a product
  • Partner with you on joint projects
  • Promote your affiliate programs
  • Invite you to speak at events
  • Introduce you to investors, big clients and other key contacts

Twitter is so much more than just a marketing platform. If you focus on the quality of your connections as well as the quantity of followers, then you are most likely to achieve the best results.

Mistake #2: Auto-Follow Back

When Twitter first came out, it was considered a pretty good marketing tactic to follow back anyone who followed you. It showed that you cared about them, that you were listening to them and that the relationship was a two-way street. That’s why, when auto-follow back programs came along, they took off so quickly. Instead of having to do the following manually, people could just set up their software to do it for them and pretty soon, this became the done thing.

Today however, using auto-follow back software to follow anyone who follows you is a big no-no and is extremely frowned upon by many Twitter users. So why is this?

Firstly, it makes it difficult to use Twitter properly to connect with the people you really care about. If your whole Twitter feed is flooded with people you don’t know and aren’t relevant to you, then how can you possibly build real relationships?

Secondly, you open yourself up to spam. Your Direct Message box and Twitter feed is going to be inundated with none-stop promotional messages and this is going to make it virtually impossible to build real relationships.

Thirdly, it makes you look like a spammer because anyone who understands how Twitter works can take one look at your follow to follower ratio and know you’re using automated software. To these people, this often looks like spam and you are likely to lose your reputation as a respectable trader.

Finally, it reduces your perceived authority. Real authority figures are followed by a lot of people but aren’t necessarily following a lot of people. If you have a 1:1 ratio, you look less like an authority.

Mistake #3: Auto Direct Messaging

An even worse mistake is to use software that automatically messages anyone who follows you. Common practices include mailing people a free report or mailing a link to a squeeze page but people can see right through this kind of thing and there isn’t anyone who’ll receive that message who wouldn’t instantly know that it was generated automatically. For the vast majority of users, that’s enough for them to instantly lose trust in you.

The amount of benefit you’d get from bulk messaging like this isn’t even close to the benefit you’d get if you actually build a relationship with someone. So what can you do instead? Instead of automatically messaging everyone, take the time to actually look through your followers and when someone follows you, go and check out their feed.

Whenever you see someone who you think you’d genuinely want to connect with, go ahead and send them a message. Make it personalised and tailor it directly to them. They’ll love you for reaching out and you’ll build a real connection.

Mistake #4: Not Making It Personal

It sounds silly, but if you leave your background picture on the default settings, or if you don’t have a great looking picture, you’re going to lose a lot of your audience. When you’re first starting out on Twitter, it’s perfectly fine to just use Twitter’s default background or you can even opt to use one of Twitter’s many template backgrounds.

As your brand grows however, you should think about hiring a designer to have a custom made background designed for you. If you have a great looking custom background, it really sends the message that you’re a professional who cares about his or her followers and the same goes for profile pictures. You need to have a professional looking profile photo, which ideally includes the brand color or “vibe” that matches your background. Remember you can even change your Twitter’s entire colour theme to a colour matching your brand now, so when anyone visits your page they won’t see the standard sky blue default scheme.

Mistake #5: Doing a Disappearing Act

If you disappear all of a sudden, even just for a week or two, your followers are going to start to forget who you are. It’s okay if it’s a planned break that you announce – for example, a honeymoon – But if you just drop off the map all of a sudden, you will quickly lose all of the work that you have put into your social media efforts.

This seems self-explanatory, but it happens all too often. It might be because of a family emergency, business troubles or even a bit of a burnout but your audience won’t know what’s going on unless you tell them. If you just disappear, many of your followers will just move on, after all there are far too many other things pulling for their attention on the social web.

If you must take an extended break from Twitter, you have a couple options;

First, you can announce that you’re taking a break. You can explain why and make sure your audience knows you’re coming back.

The better option is to use a tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to continue to post tweets even in your absence. You can greatly tone down the volume as well. For example, you can automatically post just one or two tweets a day, instead of your normal 10 to 20. This allows you to keep your connections alive, even when you can’t fully be there.

Mistake #6: Always Tweeting at the Same Time of Day

Do you tend to Tweet at a specific time of day? Unfortunately due to time zones, this is a big no-no. Twitter is an international platform, therefore if you’re always tweeting only when it makes sense in your time zone then you’re not going to be able to reach the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the world.

Vary up your tweet times so you appear active to everyone, no matter where they’re geographically located. Use scheduling tools such as the ones we just mentioned to spread out your tweets so you don’t have to actually be online to tweet out your timezone-friendly updates.

Mistake #7: Not Responding to @Mentions

If someone @mentions you and you don’t respond, according to social media etiquette, you will come across as rude and also lose a valuable opportunity to connect with them. You lose the opportunity to connect with their audience, to have a vibrant discussion that is public and most importantly you are giving up the opportunity to win a fan.

People often don’t give @mentions the respect they deserve. Yes they are visible publically, but they’re still messages directed at you specifically and for this reason, they should be treated as if they were one on one communications, like email.

The difference between Twitter users who respond to every @mention and those who ignore @mentions is astronomical. The Twitter user who responds regularly will get more retweets, more mentions, more followers and more traction in general.

Tip: When responding or mentioning someone, if you start with @followersname*, the post won’t show up on your followers feed. This can be a good thing if you want to reply somewhat discreetly or if you want to show other followers your response (to answer a frequently asked question for example) start with a word or a space first then the @followersname*

Mistake #8: No Personality Tweets

This is a mistake often made by big brands, as well as by small marketers who’re trying to look big, official or corporate like. They think that in order to appear trustworthy or “brand like” they have to write tweets that are standoffish, stiff and lack personality. That doesn’t generate trust – all it does is bore your audience into leaving.

Just because you have a big brand doesn’t mean you have to be stiff. Take American fast food company Taco Bell for instance. Though Taco Bell is a multi-million dollar company (owned by a public multi-billion dollar company,) they still use their Twitter accounts humorously to build connection with their followers.

For instance, when deodorant company Old Spice jabbed at Taco Bell, this is how they jabbed back:


And when Men’s Health jabbed at Taco Bell on “420 day,” this is how they responded:


The social web found these tweets hilarious. It generated a lot of buzz as people loved Taco Bell’s sassy approach and wanted more, thereby generating it hundreds more followers.

Don’t make the mistake of taking your personality out of your tweets just because you want to appear respectable. If anything, the best way to appear respectable is to let your personality out.

Mistake #9: Being Stingy With Retweets

Giving someone a retweet is one of the most valuable gifts you could give in the Twitter community because it shows someone that you appreciate them, value your relationship with them and most importantly that you like their content enough to put your stamp of approval on it and send it to your followers.

In order to succeed on Twitter, it is important to regularly retweet other people’s content. Not only do retweets help you build relationships with other Twitter users, but they also help you build your relationship with your followers. If you’re clever with it, and only retweet content that your followers would love, while providing valuable original content of your own, people will come to value you more not less. It helps you, it helps the original tweet author and it helps your followers. Everyone wins.

Mistake #10: Taking vs. Giving

A lot of marketers from the traditional marketing worlds tend to come on Twitter with a taking mindset. They come on asking: If I invest XY and Z (hours, money, energy, etc) what can I get in return? How many followers can I get? How many leads? How much revenue?

Unfortunately, that’s not how Twitter works and marketers who come on Twitter with this mindset are often sorely disappointed.

The marketers that tend to succeed on Twitter are those that approach it with a giving mindset. They come asking: What kind of content can I give to my followers? How can I help other Twitter users succeed? What kind of content is missing in my industry that I can provide?

When you take on the giving mentality, people will naturally want to follow you and most importantly will naturally want to retweet your content. People will be encouraged to click on your links and eventually they will buy your product.

These are ten of the most common Twitter mistakes, along with their solutions. Knowing what to do on Twitter is important – But more important is making sure you know what not to do.

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