Are you a Twitter Twit?

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Are you a Twitter twit?

Last month, I shared a few of the mistakes I commonly see people making on LinkedIn. Because Twitter isn’t strictly for professional networking the way LinkedIn is, there are a lot more different approaches to using it, but you still need to make sure you’re not annoying other users, especially if you’re using it as a marketing strategy for your business.

A lot of the issues I see are the result of abusing automation. Just because you can automate something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Do you send out auto DMs?

Lots of people have a system set up that automatically sends a direct message to their new followers. Often it’s inviting them to sign up for a newsletter or connect with them on another social network. Don’t kid yourself; nobody thinks, “Oh, I feel special; this person really wants to engage with me.” Most experienced Twitter users can smell an auto DM from a mile away, although some are much worse than others.

Some people will actually be so put off that they’ll UNfollow you right away, just as I’ve walked out of stores where the staff were too pushy. Do you really want to risk that?

Does everything you post on Facebook automatically feed to Twitter?

If I’m on Twitter, it’s because that’s where I want to be right now. I don’t want to click on your link and have to log into my Facebook account to see what you’re talking about. And yes, I know I wouldn’t have this problem if I just stayed logged into Facebook all the time, but I choose not to. Facebook knows way too much about me as it is. And what about all the people who don’t use Facebook? (Yes, they do exist!)

Do you just “set it and forget it”?

Like many bloggers, I’ve used WordPress plugins to automatically tweet random links to some of my older blog posts. I find it an effective way to share content that my followers may have missed or would enjoy reading again. However, like any form of automation on social media, you have to take the time to set it up properly. Whenever I publish a post that is time-sensitive, such as an event promotion, I make sure it is excluded. But not everyone does this.

I actually saw a post in my Twitter stream last month with New Year greetings for 2007! The information in the blog post it linked to is just as valuable today as it was when it was originally published, but simply changing the title of the post and the introduction (or removing the intro from the tweet format) would probably have resulted in a lot more click-throughs.

Do you fail to engage?

Another problem resulting from over-automation happens when people send out tweets, whether directly from their RSS feed or using a tool like Hootsuite, and never take the time to see whether anyone has responded to them. I’ve had someone ask me, “Do you know so-and-so? I replied to her tweet, and she never acknowledged it.”

Seriously, you’re probably better off not bothering with Twitter than to miss out on networking opportunities, or even worse, make a bad impression.

Are you self-centered?

An awful lot of people who use Twitter for business seem to treat it as their own personal broadcasting channel. Social media experts generally agree that to be effective, 80% of the content you post should be relevant to your audience, and only 20% should be specifically related to your business. It’s okay to tweet more than once about your new blog post or upcoming webinar; after all, not everyone is online at the same time, but if I look at your profile and all I see is a bunch of ads, I’m not going to follow you.

And please don’t retweet every single tweet where you’re mentioned. If someone says something really complimentary about you, you deserve to brag, but if someone retweets you, it’s really overkill to retweet the retweets.

Are you a name dropper?

Everyone likes to get mentioned – it’s not just a compliment, but an opportunity to be exposed to people who may not already be following you. “Follow Friday” is a popular way to promote interesting people you’re following on Twitter.  Unfortunately, it has degraded to the point where a lot of people send out the same list of friends every week, and those friends retweets that list, and so on. It’s neither interesting nor helpful; it’s tiresome. The Oatmeal explains it far better than I can.

So few people are doing Follow Friday well anymore that it really stands out when they do. Here’s a great example:

Do you fail to deliver what you promise?

When I get new followers, I always check out their profiles to decide whether to follow them back. Sometimes I read their bios and think, “Awesome, I can learn a lot about XYZ from this person,” then I read their tweets and all I see is quotes, day-to-day minutia, or useless information. Why bother mentioning that you’re an expert in something if you’re never going to share your knowledge with your followers?

What are your thoughts? Do you think there are times when the above actions are acceptable, or even effective? Are there things people do on Twitter that bug you?

Image courtesy of opensourceway, used under a Creative commons license.
Post updated August 23, 2018.

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A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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  1. Avatar Deanne on May 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Hello Janet,
    Thanks for the tips (and for a new task on my list 🙂 My main comment is in support of your ‘engagement’ tip. I schedule in time to review who has followed me, much in the manner like you suggest, recently I found a new follower totally engaging so I sent a quick message to them saying so…. one week later I was asked to participate in an article!.

    Authentic engagement is so incredibly powerful. And it the results aren’t immediate – be patient – they’ll come!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story, Deanne, and reinforcing the value of engaging vs broadcasting. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. Avatar Jill Robson on May 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Janet
    I’m afraid I am a bad tweeter right now. I have followed people but have only tweeted within a group. It is all still new to me and I am not sure when to tweet or what to say. Any sites I could visit for advice on that?

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      If you click on the “Twitter” tag at the bottom of my post, you’ll find a bunch more posts I’ve written on this topic.

  3. Avatar Deb Lee on July 31, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Great advice, Janet. I especially agree about auto DM’s. In fact, I used to be guilty about sending them myself, and I then quickly realized that it didn’t help me engage with others. Thanks again for these great reminders. =)

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 31, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Deb, I wouldn’t think you’d need reminders, as you’re such a great tweeter, but thanks for your kind words!

  4. Avatar Vicki on October 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    I do things the other way ’round. Everything I post to Twitter re-posts automatically to Facebook. Since Tweets are shorter, everything fits (and both feeds are fully public so no account is needed to read either.)

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on October 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      I’m not sure I agree with this method because Twitter IDs are often included in tweets, but they’re meaningless on Facebook, especially to people who don’t use Twitter.

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