It has been too long since we last posted for our social media series – a result of our many other activities. That makes it feel a little awkward to pontificate about mistakes made using Twitter (or any other social media platform) and I hope these observations don’t come across that way. Two months of tracking tweets across a range of keyword topics just gives me a feeling that I may be able to help guide some.
Twitter is a fast growing way of communicating with your clients – yes, it really is and you ignore it at your peril – and a plethora of connected social media platforms and social media management platforms, not to mention a whole new vocabulary, have grown up around it. There are also a lot of myths, false conventions, misunderstood practices and so forth which plague the 140 character micro blogging platform. Here is a selection of just some of those which may be affecting your success on Twitter:
1. Simultaneous Multiple Tweets: just because Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and the like allow you to prepare and schedule 15 tweets to all go out simultaneously on Twitter does not mean to say you should use the feature and abuse your followers. When the feed of one of your followers fills with 15 simultaneous tweets, there is a fair to good chance they will be annoyed enough to unfollow you. You will get much better engagement and build a better following by scheduling those 15 tweets to go out at (I recommend) hourly intervals through the day than by issuing them all at once.
2. Tweeting ‘Old’ News: at the start of the keyword tracking exercise in late September, I was caught by a couple of tweets about the disappearance of flight MH370, which we all know sadly disappeared on 8th March 2014 with the presumed loss of all on board. The event is a mystery that won’t be solved for a long time, in all probability, if ever and is devastating for the families of all those lost. What stunned me then, and still, is that I still see ‘fresh’ tweets with links to headlines back then in March, as if this were news now. I then found that this is not so unusual. The same technique is used on many other events that were news but no longer are, presumably to attract reactions such as mine. By all means tweet about developments to this tragedy – there are plenty – just not the original story as if were still news. Again, you will ultimately just annoy your followers and lose some.
3. Tweeting just to tweet: this is one I have to be a little careful about so let me explain: one of the keywords I was tracking was “travel”. I have seen literally hundreds of tweets in two months which go something like this: “I want to travel the world with my best friend”. Probably 95% of those on Twitter do and some of them actually are doing it but is the statement that you want to of interest to your followers or is it just tweeting for the sake of it ? Could it come across as you lacking anything of interest to say ? If you are tweeting only to family and close friends, then it may be relevant. However, if you are tweeting to a wider audience and hoping to grow your followers, it’s unlikely that you will achieve your goal that way.
4. Excessive Hashtag use: this one has attracted some well placed advice recently. There is little as annoying as trying to read as a tweet where every word, or a high proportion of them, have hashtags. Hashtags should be used for the subjects you want your tweet to be found by. Think of the topics that relate to your tweet and put hashtags on those – normally 2 or 3, at most. On that basis, “#and” is not a valid hashtag. Adjectives are not valid hashtags – no-one is searching for “big”, “small” “green”, “great” etc. as topics. If you render your tweets almost unreadable with excessive hashtags, expect to lose followers. Keep this advice in mind for your twitter bio as well, by the way.
5. Not letting me Re-Tweet easily: here is one trap that many large companies, some bloggers and regular Twitter users sometimes fall into. Yes, you can tweet 140 characters but not if you want anyone to re-tweet you. If you want to be re-tweeted, leave 20 characters unused – so keep it to not more than 120 characters. When someone wants to re-tweet they will include either “via @yourhandle” at the end (the best option and used by avid readers of Mark Schaefer‘s excellent “The Tao of Twitter“) or “RT @your handle” at the beginning. 20 characters enables them to do that and keep your original tweet intact. I enjoy re-tweeting good content and tweets to my followers. It’s seriously annoying not to be able to re-tweet and may well not be serving your purpose well either.
If you read this through you will detect a common theme: the best way to build up your following on Twitter (or at least not to lose followers) is not buying fake followers but to tweet thinking not only about what you want to say but what your followers will see. Turn them off with any of the 5 points I have highlighted and you are just fighting an ultimately losing battle, replacing lost followers with new ones who may well also unfollow you, in due course. This is not an exhaustive list of bad habits on Twitter but it is the 5 I see most commonly and which have prompted me to unfollow other tweeps. Which bad Twitter habits turn you off most ?