From large corporations to small businesses, international organisations to solo entrepreneurs, having a Twitter profile has been seen as something that is becoming more and more essential. With every single second of the day seeing 11 new accounts and 750 new tweets, and with over 500 million accounts registered and a million more every day, it’s pretty colossal, for something referred to as ‘micro’ blogging.
For UK businesses it’s important to appreciate that it’s not an entirely US based platform either, with at least 18% of all Twitter users coming from the UK, and with a roughly equal balance of men and women (with women slightly better represented at around 55%).
In terms of search, and traffic, Twitter now sees more searches carried out than Yahoo and Bing COMBINED, and don’t think that all that tweeting is purely social – well over half of all active twitter users follow companies, brands or products.
Yet in spite of this only 57% of companies use Twitter as part of their social media marketing. In fact if you’re using Twitter correctly and effectively then you are part of a select group of companies which do, because an overwhelming number of businesses and organisations which do use Twitter for social media marketing are making several major errors, which significantly reduces their chance of success.
Here is a list of The 12 Top Twitter Mistakes Which No Business Can Afford To Make.
1. Generic Or Unclear Avatar
The avatar is the small graphic which appears both at the top of your Twitter home page and next to every one of your tweets. Yes, it’s small, but it’s also extremely important. When you create a Twitter profile you’ll automatically be given a randomly generated stock avatar, but you absolutely must change this as soon as possible. To do otherwise simply smacks of apathy and laziness.
But changing your avatar for something else does require thought. It’s important that the image relates to your brand, and in many cases it makes sense to use the logo of your business. But in some cases the logo may not downsize terribly well. If your logo is fairly long and not very high then the majority of the square graphic will be white, so be creative.
You may want to have the face of the CEO, creating a more personal touch, but again, this needs thinking about carefully. Whatever you choose, it has to be instantly and easily recognisable.
2. Ineffective, Pushy Or Bland Bio
The bio section of text which appears at the top of your home page or underneath your avatar is important, and is very limited too. You can include a single link here, and just a few characters of text, so take the time to come up with at least a few versions and think carefully about what you are trying to achieve.
Don’t use the bio to beg for visits to the main website, don’t be pushy or try to be too smart. Don’t be lazy and simply describe the business if the majority of your visitors already know what you do, or it’s fairly self evident from the name of the business.
Don’t always assume that the link has to be to the main home page of your website either.
3. Misleading, Ill-Chosen Or Missing Location
The geographic location is important as this will help increase your visibility in search results, including those carried out on Twitter itself. In some cases you may include the town and country, in others just the town, and in some you may include the country (if your business is national).
4. Unoriginal, Dull, Poorly Laid Out, Distracting Or Generic Background
A while back Twitter underwent a fairly major shift in layout, before which it was a fairly narrow vertical strip which left a lot of space on either side. Many people took advantage of this and created custom backgrounds which included plenty of text about the company, including the address, telephone number, email address and web address.
Since then most people’s home pages have changed, although you can still see plenty of examples where the backgrounds haven’t, and in these cases the backgrounds simply look cluttered, with information hard or impossible to see clearly.
Backgrounds on Twitter tile in most cases, and so this can sometimes cause busy and distracting effects. This is almost as bad as not choosing a background at all and relying on Twitter’s default graphics.
5. Following Only Those People Of Immediate Interest
When following people on Twitter it’s important not to just follow those people in whom you have a direct interest. This is like driving forwards without ever looking in your mirrors. It’s possible to do it, but dangerous. With Twitter it’s best to also make sure you follow those people who have interests which are similar to those your business can offer.
So if your business is about overseas property investment, you don’t want to just be following those businesses or organisations offering advice and news about overseas property investment. You should also be following those people who may be interested in overseas property investment themselves.
The two benefits of this include providing you with the opportunity to read questions people are asking, to which you can respond, and seeing the sort of comments being made by potential customers about their view of the industry.
How do you find such people? Simple, if they are not yet following you (which some will be) then take a look at who is following similar companies to you, and start following them.
6. Using Autoresponders Or Direct Messages Inappropriately
Whether you set up a Twitter autoresponder or you manually write direct messages to your new followers, take care, because it’s very easy to end up putting people off, or simply failing to ‘hit the spot’.
Some direct messages to new followers do little more than ask them to visit their website. Why? Others ask them to ‘Like’ them on Facebook. Why? Some just send blatant marketing messages or adverts. These are all terrible ways of introducing your business to someone who has taken the trouble to discover you on Twitter and then subscribe to your tweets.
It’s better to thank them first, and then either offer them a special deal, ask them whether there’s any way you can help, or recommend a page on your site and explain why it might be of particular interest.
7. Long Links, Mystery Meat Links Or Too Many Links
Including links to your website, to specific pages or to other resources is important, although shouldn’t be overdone of course. But a mistake made by a number of people is to include ‘mystery meat’ links.
These are shortened URLs with no real explanation of what an unwitting visitor is likely to find. If the tweet doesn’t offer a full explanation of the link and an idea of what it links to and why it is important or relevant then it is likely to be either ignored or mistrusted.
For example, where the heck do you think this URL points: http://bit.ly/Uqnzjh
8. Missing Hashtags, Inappropriate Hashtags, Too Many Hashtags
Hashtags are those keywords, abbreviations or phrases which can be preceded by a hash symbol, which then turns them into clickable links. The use of hashtags is important because it allows people to find your tweets more easily. A tweet which includes the word ‘#SEO‘ for example could provide the ability for someone to click the #SEO link and immediately view all recent tweets which include that same hashtag.
Hashtags are also one way in which Twitter identifies potentially relevant tweets or people when serving up search results. But it’s important to make sure that you don’t make the mistake of either filling your tweet with so many hashtags it looks like a link fiesta and shouts ‘spam’ loudly, and in blue, or you use hashtags inappropriately.
There are many examples of businesses falling flat on their faces with hashtags. The PR company responsible for Susan Doyle’s latest album ended up having to backtrack rather quickly when they overlooked the obvious mistake with their chosen hashtag – #susanalbumparty.
9. Failing To Use Soundbites, Quotes Or Retweetable Content
When you compose a tweet do you think about whether you’re offering something which other people will want to share with their followers? Although not every tweet needs to be ‘retweetable’, it’s important to offer this kind of content from time to time.
These tweets can be thoughtful observations, soundbites, quotations or humorous observations. These can often be retweeted, which will widen your audience and will very likely increase your follower base.
10. Failing To Retweet Or Recognise Other People
Twitter is obviously a social media platform, so be sociable! Make sure that for every four or five of your own tweets you include at least one retweet of someone else’s, or a response/reply to something they’ve said. The most successful and effective Twitter profiles often include as many as one in three retweets/replies.
Struggling to find something to say on Twitter? Check this post out
11. Inappropriate Or Inconsistent Use Of 1st Or 3rd Person
As a business you’ll often have a single person designated the PR person responsible for maintaining the Twitter account. In some cases it’s the CEO, in some cases the PR department and in other cases it may well be a third party such as a freelance copywriter or marketing company.
However the decision is made it’s important to be clear about whether the account will tweet in the third person (‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’) or the first person (‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’). Making it clear from the start is important as this will have an impact on how trustworthy the account sounds.
Often flicking between the two, or avoiding pronouns entirely, can make a business sound confused. Using the first person isn’t a problem, but it’s probably best to make it clear who that person is, or their role in the company.
12. Inconsistent, Unrealistic Or Too Infrequent Tweeting
There’s only one thing worse than only tweeting once in a blue moon, and that’s tweeting every ten minutes. Effective tweeting needs to be consistent and realistic. If you tweet too infrequently you fail to offer anything worth following. Tweet too often and you’ll put people off as their timelines become dominated with your every little observation. Plus you’ll inevitably start to run out of things to say without becoming tedious.
Be realistic about how often you can tweet, and try to remain consistent. You might even create a plan, scheduling three tweets per day, with one tweet being a retweet or reply, one tweet containing a link, and one tweet containing a sound bite or short quote that might be retweetable. You can even use one of the many tweet scheduling services (such as Twuffer) to write and schedule your week’s tweets at the start of each week.