Twitter can be such a valuable tool for any business. It can help you connect with consumers by providing them with information about your products as well as act as a live customer service tool. A tweet can be treated like a mini-press release to distribute information about your business. Twitter also can help you network with others in your industry or field. But can Twitter actually have a negative impact on your business?
If you don’t use it properly, it can. Here are 10 ways we’ve seen businesses use Twitter to their disadvantage:
1). Tweeting Too Much: Ever see a company send about 10 tweets in a row so that they appear in your timeline stacked right on top of one another? This might be an attention-getter, but it’s also a true Twitter turn-off. There’s an ongoing debate about whether or not one should schedule tweets. If you want to send out 10 tweets but don’t have the time to log in throughout the day, you would be better off to schedule them to spread them out over several hours’ time. You’d reach a wider audience that way, too.
2). Tweeting Too Little: Sending out one tweet a week and logging into your Twitter account that often won’t add up to much social media success. If you want to gain anything from social media, you will have to invest some time in it and become active in it on a regular basis. Try to tweet a little every day, even if it’s just a couple of tweets. Having trouble coming up with content? Tweet about your company’s news, helpful tips, retweet stories or blog posts from othrs that you think your followers will find interesting (be sure to credit the author), links to industry news and events, or a link to an informational page on your web site. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, get help from others in your company and share social media responsiblities.
3). Doesn’t Shorten Links: Ever see a tweet that is one long link and nothing else? Have you ever clicked on one? Probably not much. Though sometimes it takes an extra step to go to a link shortening site such as bit.ly, it is usually a worthwhile one. Not only can you add more info to your tweet to entice people to click—or even customize your shortened link—but your tweet becomes more visually appealing, and you look more tech savvy.
4). Broadcasting: Social media is, well…social. Interactive. Conversational. At least it’s supposed to be. But every now and then we see a company who only tweets or posts information about their products and services or links to their site. This broadcasting of information is fine once in a while, but it should be accompanied by a constant dialogue with your followers. Simply tweeting one-way messages might work for some, but you’ll get more out of social media–and gain more followers–if you allow yourself to use Twitter to form relationships with your followers and respond to their tweets.
5). Follows No One: Occasionally, I’ll notice a company or person with hundreds of followers who follows no one. This is the true sign of someone who broadcasts tweets and isn’t really interested in interacting with others. In our opinion, it comes across as being arrogant. Should you follow everyone who follows you? No. But isn’t there at least one person or organization in the Twitterverse whose tweets you might find useful?
6). No Interaction: Ever send a tweet or DM to someone specifically and never hear back? It’s expected from time to time, especially when tweeting a celebrity or the White House (but imagine if you did get a tweet from your favorite celeb — it would certainly be one that you would remember.) Many companies are finding that Twitter can be a great customer service tool. It might not be possible to respond to everyone immediately, but even if it’s a day or two later, answering a tweeted question will be appreciated and will give you credibility in the eyes of your followers.
7). Lack of Focus: Twitter is now seen as an information network. Your followers choose to follow you for a reason. If you’re a marketing expert, your followers most likely look forward to your tweets about the latest industry news, helpful tips, and innovative sales ideas. If you switch gears and start tweeting about quilt-making, you might lose some of your original, most-dedicated followers. I think it’s great for a brand’s personality to shine through tweets that give insight into the people behind the brand; however, don’t lose sight of your mission: to inform your followers about your brand, industry news, or helpful tips, special deals. Give ‘em what they want and they’ll keep reading.
8). Spam: There’s obvious spam and spam that’s more subtle. As for the obvious: Don’t send out a tweet about one topic that includes a link to something unrelated. Similarly, don’t tweet a hashtag and then include an irrelevant link (frequently seen when a topic ‘trends’ — spammers include the trending tag in a tweet for something completely unrelated). Basically, don’t be deceptive! Be honest with your followers and you’re bound to win their respect and attention. Another spammy tactic to avoid: don’t enter someone else’s chat or Twitter party and start selling your products. This includes using the popularity of others’ hashtags to sell your own business. A real Twitter turn-off.
9). Fear of Twitter: On Twitter, anyone can tweet anything they want about a brand or person: complaints, negative feedback, dislike of a product. During real-time chats, a business might feel that they lose an element of control over what is being said along with their hashtag. However, it’s likely that people will tweet or post about a company whether or not the company uses social media (just do a simple Google search of your biz to find out). Because of this fear, sometimes a company sets up an account that doesn’t seem very personable. They hold interaction at a distance. They tweet only about their company and don’t expose anything about themselves or their personality. But people like transparency. Don’t give into fear. Will you see complaints or negative comments when interacting? Possibly. But if you are honest and open and try to resolve any issues fairly and immediately (maybe by encouraging consumers to contact you offline to discuss), you are sure to get a credibility boost in the eyes of your followers.
10). Not Thinking Before Tweeting: Kenneth Cole did it; so did Gilbert Gottfried: offend thousands in fewer than 140 characters. If you have an individual account and followers that consists mainly of close friends, it’s okay to tweet off-the-cuff remarks. With a business, doing so can have serious repercussions. Be careful about what you tweet. If you inject humor into your timeline, be sure that you carefully consider what you are saying and question if someone might take offense. This also goes for second-hand information. When it comes to news, make sure you are retweeting or crediting a reliable source. The more misinformation or negative and offensive information you tweet, the more likely you will lose followers and potential consumers of your brand.
Twitter can be a great interactive tool to help you connect with consumers. When tweeting from a business account, set up some guidelines or rule for your staff to follow. Meet regularly to discuss content and strategy. Make sure everyone’s on the same page. But most importantly: have fun! Be true to your brand, but don’t be afraid to show some personality. Besides, it’s all about being social. Otherwise, you might as well stick to scheduled tweets.