Twitter offers business owners a fast and effective way to connect to their customers. But the Twitterverse, like the business world, has its own set of rules, and those who flaunt them will pay the price by losing followers.
Many common sense rules that apply to traditional marketing also translate to Twitter. For example, you wouldn't approve an ad without checking spelling and grammar; the same should go for your company tweets. But other rules are specific to Twitter, and this makes it difficult for the uninitiated to understand why their following isn't growing.
If you want to engage your existing followers and win new ones, here are five types of tweets you should avoid:
- The broken record: Writing and scheduling your tweets in advance using a social media management tool is common practice, but, unfortunately, so is scheduling the same tweet to publish every few hours.
"You can share a blog post a good four or five times, but don't use the exact same words each and every time," recommends Lara Wellman, a partner in Ottawa-based Wellman Wilson Consulting, which helps businesses use online tools. Writing different teaser tweets refreshes your Twitter feed and entices more followers to visit your links, says Wellman.
- The robot: Twitter can be configured to automatically send a direct message to thank your new followers for subscribing, but the gesture feels hollow when it pops up seconds after a user subscribes to your feed. Instead, thank users with a personal message that makes reference to the content of their Twitter feed (presuming it's worth referencing). This makes users feel good about following you and highlights your willingness to engage, advises Matt Moccia, social media coordinator at Toronto-based Zenergy Communications Inc.. If you don't have time to assess and thank every follower, concentrate your efforts on influencers and customers.
- The megaphone: Twitter is rife with shameless self-promotion, and "even brands with a lot of social media presence are guilty," says Moccia. He recommends a messaging mix of 20% marketing and company-related content and 80% external information, like relevant industry news, interesting articles and blog links.
- The announcer: Linking your Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn accounts to post your updates to Twitter can save time on your social media activities but it can also create its own social media gaffes. "A lot of the messaging that you put on those other channels is longer than 140 characters, so it gets cut off, which is frustrating for readers," explains Wellman.
Keep your tweets to 140 characters by publishing longer information on your blog and tweeting a link or by sharing the information on social media platforms with longer character counts.
- The confrontation: Twitter offers your customers a new way to ask questions and make comments, but it can also open your brand up to very public, negative feedback.
"If you address it publicly,” says Moccia, “other followers will see that you addressed the problem and that you actually cared.”