In July 2013, Disruptive Communications put together an infographic illustrating what customers can’t stand about brands as seen through their social media outlets. While the infographic was limited to polling about 1,003 U.K. based consumers, the reasons are seemingly universal when it comes to what is thought of as most damaging to a brand online. Over 42% polled ranked poor spelling and grammar on the top of the list, believing it reflected badly on professionals. Slightly beneath that at 29% were updates that were too self-promotional or “salesy” and at almost 13% in third place was posting too often – often viewed as a spam message. Rounding out the top five were brands that tried too hard to be funny at number four (12.5%) and brands that simply didn’t post enough content or engage all that often (7%).
While I agree with this list, I’ve noticed when I tweet while our social media manager is out; there are a few other tactics brands are attempting to make work in the Twitterverse. Tactics that are, unfortunately (or not), falling flat but still keep getting used in the hopes that they might catch on. Overuse of hashtags and linking all of your Instagram/Pinterest/every other social outlet to your Twitter feed aside, here are three things to avoid tweeting within your brand’s Twitter page.
Chiming in on a conversation you aren’t part of.
It's one thing to reply back to a user who @ mentions you or tweets your brand’s name without an @ mention with a question or compliment to offer up. It’s a whole other when you jump in on a conversation between two Twitter users who aren’t mentioning you at all… and would like to keep the chat limited to between themselves, even if they did include a hashtag in the mix that could be faintly traced back to your brand. I seldom see this crashing a tweet conversation working out for brands that are not directly mentioned in it or loosely affiliated. Stick to closer, if not actual, @ mentions instead.
Don’t abbreviate already short words.
Taking the term “small business” and chopping it down to #smallbiz is an example of an easy way to save on characters and insert a hashtag in your tweet. Cutting down a word like “great” to “grt” is a little less necessary – you’re saving on what, two characters? Not to mention you could be potentially confusing your following base in the process. Avoid abbreviating words that are already fairly short on their own and save specialty hashtags or short forms for longer phrases. You can get creative on the tweet as much as you like, just steer clear of confusing anyone when it comes to the final message sent across.
Gotta remember a call to action!
This may be the most common thing I see in tweets from brands and small businesses alike. Encouragement to reach out to the brand for assistance or get started using their services… but not including a phone number or link to a contact portion of the website where help can be found. (*insert a sad trombone noise here*)
Your call to action in a tweet is what people who follow you rely on. It communicates where to go in the event of a sale or promotion, a place to enter in for a contest, or just an area where they can give extra feedback at. Relying on reader to simply tweet you back for more information isn’t enough – and frankly, it’s a little embarrassing because you should have included a link or a number to begin with.
When tweeting as a brand, sometimes it’s not a bad idea to revert back to basics – simple, short tweets with calls to action included that work well as a retweet and aren’t cluttered with abbreviations or every other word as a hashtag. Remember that when it comes to social media, it’s always great to get creative, but don’t get so zany you wind up alienating your own customer base either!