5 Twitter gaffes brand managers should avoid

While the microblogging platform has delivered some big wins for companies like Wendy’s, it can be a bumpy road for communicators finding their sea legs. Steer clear of these perils.

It’s no secret that Twitter is a powerful tool for online marketers.

In fact, a quarter of U.S. marketers run videos on Twitter. The social media platform can help you open a dialogue with your audience, update your customers on the latest company news, provide customer service and more.

Your business probably already has a Twitter account, but are you using it to its fullest potential?

Your Twitter feed should be a picture-perfect representation of your company’s desired image.

Here are five rookie Twitter mistakes and ways to avoid them:

1. You use inconsistent hashtags (#). Hashtags can be tricky for even the most seasoned Twitter pros. What should you be hashtagging? How many hashtags should you use? Should you be jumping on every fun hashtag bandwagon?

Perhaps the most common Twitter mistake is not using hashtags at all. Hashtags are the easiest way to reach a wider audience. Any Twitter user can search a hashtag to find related tweets (or Twitter updates), which means more impressions and engagement for your content.

However, don’t get too excited and start #hashtagging #every #word. Too many can look messy and may be a turn-off for potential followers. Every single tweet does not require a hashtag, but make sure to include one, two or three when relevant.

Instead of joining every trend, find a hashtag that pertains to your business and stick with it. You can even create a business-specific hashtag for your business that you can check to see what people are saying about your brand.

Make sure you use your business-specific hashtag consistently. Misspelling the hashtag, or switching it up too often, will be confusing for your audience.

2. You don’t post regularly.

At the very least you should be tweeting once per day. If you go too long without posting, your audience may lose interest and unfollow. Fifteen percent of Twitter users unfollow a business within 3 weeks if they feel the brand doesn’t make a strong effort to engage.

If you’re worried about keeping up with a consistent posting schedule, tools like Hootsuite and Twuffer allow you to schedule tweets in advance. Make time to draft, proofread and schedule your tweets for the upcoming week so you won’t have to worry about tweeting every single day!

Not sure when to tweet? You can experiment with tweeting at different times during the day to find what time garners the most engagement with your audience. Monitor your Twitter analytics closely to get a better idea of what works for your brand.

3. You talk about yourself too much.

Think of Twitter as an ongoing party with all of your followers as friends. You wouldn’t walk into a real-world party and start shouting about how great you are.

It’s great to feel enthusiastic about your company, but if your feed is 100 percent promotional content your followers will soon become bored. Instead, try the golden 80/20 rule: eighty percent of your feed should be content that is relevant and/or “infotainment” (important information that entertains as well) to your readers. The other 20 percent can be about your company specifically.

4. You use Twitter like Facebook (or Instagram, LinkedIn, others).

All social media platforms were not created equally. Twitter and Facebook are two completely different animals and need to be treated as such. For example: Facebook posts are allowed 5,000 characters. Twitter gets 280. If you’ve written a lovely 1,000-character Facebook post, it’s not going to show up well on Twitter, leaving your feed looking messy and unprofessional.

At first glance, linking Facebook posts to your Twitter feed seems like an easy way to generate content. Cross-posting is a quick shortcut that allows you to have content on both platforms and makes social media management, well, manageable. However, savvy PR pros know taking the shortcut because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s the best route.

It may be tempting to cross-post your Facebook posts to Twitter (or vice versa), but doing so demonstrates a lack of understanding of the inner workings of social media. Sure, it may be easier to tweet a link to your latest Facebook post, but how many people want to click on that? What about the section of audience members who already follow your business on both platforms? They don’t want to see the same content twice. The last thing a customer wants to see on Twitter is “I posted a new photo on Facebook.”

5. You ignore your audience.

Businesses often forget the “social” aspect of “social media.”

Though Twitter is a great way to raise awareness for your brand, it is primarily a platform for connecting with other people. Engagement is a two-way street. Don’t leave your audience feeling ignored and unappreciated.

“Like” responses from your followers and don’t be afraid to retweet if one of your followers has a particularly intriguing observation. Reply to comments as you deem appropriate. Identify followers who routinely engage with your content and start a dialogue with them.

From a consumer perspective, it is flattering to be remembered by a business profile. If you want to go above and beyond with your social media presence, try to remember personal details and call your followers by their names. Take time to get to know your audience on a personal level and they are more likely to become long-term fans of your brand.

For example, Wendy’s has developed a reputation for responding to its followers with witty remarks, which as in turn garnered media attention for the brand.

You don’t need to start roasting your Twitter followers for attention. Simply find a brand voice that you’re comfortable with and stick with it.

Sarah Metoxen is a publicist with Three Girls Media, A PR firm. A version of this article originally appeared on the Three Girls Media blog.

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