Twitter is often the most difficult of all social networks for marketers and businesses to navigate. Twitter 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 many ways, Twitter marketing is all about systems and habits. It’s all about how you consistently do the things you need to do 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 or alienate your audience.
Mistake #1: Focusing on 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 1,000 – Even if that 1,000 are the 1,000 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 $5.
What really matters with Twitter is engagement. The more engagement you have, the more likely people are to …
- Retweet your content to their network.
- Come to 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. Focus on the quality of your connections as well as the quantity of followers to get 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 setup their software to do it for them. Pretty soon, this became a common occurrence.
Today, using auto-follow back software to follow anyone who follows you is quite a bad idea. It used to work, but now it’s frowned upon by many Twitter users.
First, it makes it difficult to use Twitter properly and connect with the people you really care about. If your whole Twitter feed is flooded with people you don’t know and don’t really care about, how can you possibly build real relationships?
Second, you open yourself to spam. Your Direct Message box is going to get flooded with promotional messages. Your Twitter feed will as well. Again, it makes it very difficult to build real relationships.
Third, it makes you look spammy. 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.
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.
The bottom line is, don’t use auto-follow back software.
Mistake #3: Auto Direct Messaging
An even worse mistake is to use software that automatically messages anyone who follows. Common practices include mailing people a free report or mailing a link to a squeeze page.
People can see right through that kind of thing. 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 built a relationship with them. So what can you do instead?
Instead of automatically messaging everyone, take the time to actually look through your followers. When someone follows you, go check out your feed.
Whenever you see someone who you think you’d genuinely want to connect with, go ahead and send them a message. Make it personalized and tailor it to them directly. They’ll love you for reaching out and you’ll build a real connection.
Mistake #4: Not Customizing Your Background and Picture
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. You can also opt to use one of Twitter’s many template backgrounds.
As your brand grows however, you should absolutely hire 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.
The same goes for profile pictures. You need to have a professional looking profile photo. Ideally, the profile photo you choose will also have the brand color or brand “vibe” that matches your background.
Mistake #5: Taking Extended Breaks
If you disappear all of a sudden for a month, or even a week or two, people 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’ll very quickly lose all the work you put into your social media efforts.
This seems self-explanatory, but it happens all too often. It might be because of a family emergency, it might be because of burnout, it could be business troubles. The thing is, your audience won’t know what’s going on unless you tell them. If you just disappear, many of them will just move on. There’s far too many 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 always send your tweet at one time of day? For example, many people like to send their tweets when they get off work, between 5 pm and 8 pm. While it’s great to segment your work time, it’s not great to always tweet at the same time.
The reason? Time zones. Twitter is an international platform. If you’re always tweeting only when it makes sense in your time zone, 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 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, you lose a valuable opportunity to connect with them. You lose the opportunity to connect with their audience. You lose the opportunity to have a vibrant public discussion. You lose the opportunity to win a fan.
People often don’t give @mentions the respect they deserve. Yes, @mentions are visible publicly. But they’re still messages direct at you specifically. 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.
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 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. What was the result of these kinds of tweets? Taco bell got a ton more followers. People loved Taco Bell’s sassy approach and wanted more.
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 them in the Twitter community. It shows someone you appreciate them, that you 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.
Yet people are often quite stingy with giving out retweets. For some, it stems from being protective of their followers’ attention. For others, it’s a sense of “giving something away” without getting anything in return.
But in order to succeed on Twitter, you have to get over that sense of not wanting to retweet other people’s content. Not only do retweets help you build relationships with other Twitter users, it helps you build your relationship with your followers.
If you 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. Don’t be stingy with your tweets.
Mistake #10: Taking Mentality vs. Giving Mentality
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. Marketers who come on Twitter with a taking mentality are often sorely disappointed.
The marketers that tend to succeed on Twitter are those that come 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. People will naturally want to retweet your content. People will naturally click on your links and eventually they’ll naturally buy your product.
It’s a paradox: In order to get from Twitter, you have to come with a focus on giving. Drop the taking mentality and take on the giver’s mentality.
These are ten of the most common Twitter mistakes, along with their solutions. Knowing what to do on Twitter is important – But so is knowing what not to do.