I'll start with a confession. I only started engaging on Twitter from a personal perspective a few weeks ago. My insights on these common Twitter mistakes that you can easily avoid come from my experience working with corporate brands, reading countless books and studying the interactions of some of the world's most Tweeted people. Here are five things I have learnt that are a sure fire way of destroying your credibility in the Twitterverse.
1. Buy your followers
When I hear about people buying all of their Twitter followers, I always wonder what they are trying to achieve. At the end of the day aren't we all using Twitter to progress our own agenda in some way?
You may be looking to sell a product, start a personal brand or genuinely connect with a group of people who care about all the stuff you do. But all of this is because it makes YOU feel good, and if you lead with authenticity that same feeling is projected onto other people, they feel good too.
Buying all of your followers is counterintuitive. No one will want to buy your products, because they are bound to find out that your list of drones and fake followers don't actually advocate what you have to sell. And no REAL people will want to connect with you, because it will be blatantly obvious that all you care about is a number and not a relationship.
Want to know if you or your followers are faking it? Check out this interesting site;
The image below shows you the breakdown of 50 Cent's Twitter followers. He has 58% (Over 4 million) fake or inactive followers!
Invest your time in developing a social media asset that means something. The more time you put into the relationships at the beginning the bigger the rewards will be in the long run. If you're still struggling to figure out how to make these connections, this blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago may be helpful;
2. Follow then Unfollow
A pet hate of mine is when someone follows you, and then a day or a week later clicks that unfollow button (sometimes this is automated!). The sad thing is that there are hundreds of Twitter accounts out there who have a daily process of doing exactly this. You can smell them a mile away. Anyone who is tempted to follow someone purely to get their followership back should revisit point 1 and just buy all of their followers.
It's not about how many people follow you it's about creating a community, a connection and a valuable relationship for the future. The next time you're going to follow someone, put them through this quick test;
- Will you read their Tweets in your feed?
- Will you click on the links they are sharing?
- Will you re-tweet their content to your followers?
- Would you value their opinion if you asked them a question?
If you answer 'Yes' to these questions, follow them. If you answer 'No' then perhaps it's a connection you don't need.
3. Use too many hashtags
When you see a tweet with an excessive amount of hashtags, what is your reaction? If you're anything like me it discourages you from re-tweeting, and drops the credibility of the user. Below is a link to a comical look at the over-use of hashtags on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (I'm sure you've seen it, but if not it's worth a watch!).
Whilst this is a satirical take on the social media world we live in, it can teach us a lot about how to use hashtags on Twitter. Ask yourself this question next time you're deciding which hashtags to use;
'If I used all of these words in a real conversation would it annoy someone?'
If you want to know more about when, how and what to hashtag here are some great resources;
Instead of spamming your followers with hashtags why don't you piggy-back an event, a hot news story or a trending industry topic. Here's a blog post I wrote with some suggestions of events you can newsjack in the back half of 2014.
4. Excessive Re-Tweeting
When I am deciding whether or not to follow you the first thing I do is check out your profile blurb. If you pass the first test and the blurb resonates with my interests, I'll start to read your most recent Tweets. Essentially, I am looking for a way to connect with you; a Tweet to favourite, a reason to share your content, or at the base level a reason to start a conversation. If all I can see in the first 5-10 Tweets are Re-Tweets of OTHER people's content why would I want to follow you? I can just go and follow those people and get the content that I really want.
Yes Re-Tweeting is a great way to connect with people and show you are willing to share their content, but if it is all you do then you are not adding value to anyone. And you are reducing the chance of people wanting to follow you.
What keeps your followers up at night? What are their deepest held fears? What do they love? What are their aspirations?
If you think through the lens of questions much like this, you start to think more like a marketer rather than an everyday person. But that's what Twitter is, essentially you are marketing yourself, you are marketing your content or you are marketing the content that you're sharing. So ask yourself this; what can I share RIGHT NOW that will draw on my followers' emotions and add value to their day? By adding value to your followers you are repaying the favour for them following you.
If you're not adding value, don't Tweet it.
5. Be someone you're not (Or even worse, an egg!)
The brands and people that create meaningful connections on a regular basis do so because they are authentic. They are focused, clear and purposeful in their interactions. By being clear on your purpose (or goal) for engaging on Twitter and aligning your communication to that purpose you will gain followers that trust and admire you.
A starting point for being authentic on Twitter is your profile photo and description. Make sure this captures your personality, and do us all a favour - Don't be an egg! (The 'egg' symbol is the default photo Twitter uses for someone who hasn't uploaded an image of themselves)
In the words of Dave Kerpen, Social Media guru and creator of 'Likeable';
"Authenticity Breeds Trust; Inauthenticity Breeds Fear... It's a huge turn off when people are fake"
If you want to build a large list of people on Twitter; buy your followers, follow then unfollow, use an excess of hashtags, re-tweet everything and pretend you are someone you're not. But if you want to create a community of engaged Twitter followers above all else be authentic.
Let me know in the comments below what other Twitter mistakes you see over and over again!