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Marketing May 16, 2014

15 Mistakes Your Business Might be Making on Twitter

Engaging with potential customers on social media is an important part of inbound marketing. Over the past few years, Twitter has grown to one of the most popular websites – not just in social media but across the Internet. With more than 250 million active monthly users and an Alexa rank of 9, Twitter gives you access to a virtually limitless pool of customers.

Accordingly, more and more businesses have used Twitter as part of their marketing campaigns. Many have seen a significant increase in traffic as a result of their efforts on the site. According to KISSmetrics, 64% of Twitter users are more likely to buy from brands that they follow. Furthermore, according to HubSpot, 36% of all marketers have received new customers from Twitter.

As important as social-media marketing has become, many companies are still making big mistakes in their Twitter campaigns. While many businesses do an excellent job of increasing customer engagement and generating leads through the medium, some have actually turned clients away through their Twitter feeds. Here are some of the most common examples of mistakes businesses are making on Twitter:

1. Never Monitoring

One of the most commons mistakes businesses make when they get started on Twitter is not paying enough attention to their account. Twitter is being used for customer service more and more. As a result, consumers are increasingly reaching out to businesses on the site if they have questions or concerns about products.

Even if you haven't rerouted your customer service to social media, users will still expect you to answer their questions in a timely fashion. When users direct message or tweet at you, respond as soon as possible. Customers will likely be annoyed if they don't hear from you within 24 to 48 hours.

2. Automating Your Responses

Automated responses have caused many Twitter blunders. For example, Oreo recently tweeted the following:

This tweet upset a lot of people because it included a vulgar, racist handle. This was clearly an automated response, as it was also sent to a number of other users.

There’s no way to know if your automated program will be manipulated, so it is best to just stick to using real people to man your account.

3. Pushing Facebook Posts

Twitter gives you the option of synching your account with your Facebook. This way, everything you post on Facebook will also be pushed to your Twitter. This may sound attractive if you're already very active on Facebook. However, Facebook posts usually don't work as tweets. Tweets are much shorter than Facebook posts, and Facebook will cut off part of your post if it exceeds the 140-character limit. Just take a look at this example from the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities:

If you truly don't have time for Twitter, at least make your Facebook descriptions are compatible between the two social media.

MORE:22 Killer Social Media Marketing Resources

4. Never Retweeting

Ideally, your feed should have a mix of new and curated content. That means you should post mostly original tweets, but don't be afraid to retweet as well. Twitter is a social network after all, and retweeting content is a great way to engage with other users. By retweeting, you show you're actively participating in the conversation about your industry and allow prospects to recognize that you care about others' opinions. 

5. Retweeting Too Much

At the same time, be sure you don't only retweet. While you may spend hours looking for the perfect quotes to retweet, you can look lazy and unoriginal. Part of the reason you're using social media is to create your own voice and make your business seem more human. You just can't do this if you only reuse others' content. To make sure you don't retweet excessively, limit yourself to one or two retweets per day.

6. Not Tweeting on Weekends

According to Buffer’s blog, customers' Twitter engagement is 17% higher on weekends. However, only 19% of companies tweet on weekends. This means most businesses have a lot of missed opportunities. To get the most out of your account, be sure you're posting seven days a week. You don't need to even log into your account – schedule your tweets ahead with apps like Buffer.

7. Tweeting the Same Thing Every Day

Tweeting often is important, but not if you always post the same thing! This will bore followers and make your posts come off as spam. Posting the same information all the time is an easy trend to fall into if you're holding a contest or having a promotion; or if the focus of your business is rather narrow, you may have fewer things to talk about in tweets.

Tuckey is a great example of a niche business that does a good job of varying its tweets. Tuckey has a lot of tweets about the weather and how it can affect your home, but they always seem fresh and interesting.

8. Using Your Twitter as an RSS Feed

Sharing blog posts and other articles is usually a good way to foster user engagement on Twitter. Just be careful you use your Twitter for other things too. Remember, social media should be social and making an effort to interact with your followers will pay off in the long run. 

9. Making Tweets Too Long

Twitter gives you 140 characters, but that's still too long. To get the most out your tweets, make them as short as possible. According to Twitter’s own best practices guide, tweets with 100 or fewer characters get 17% more engagement. Some of the most popular tweets have had just a few words. For example, Barack Obama's "Four more years" tweet was the most retweeted tweet of 2012.

Sometimes you have a lot to say on Twitter, and it can be difficult to keep a tweet short. This is often the case when you're running a promotion or sharing an article. However, there are many great examples of short and effective tweets out there. Here are a few from WebpageFX.

Remember, you want to attract users' attention in as quick and concise a manner as possible. Questions are a great way of fostering engagement, and the right punctuation (such as the colon above) can help you get your point across. Also, it’s a good idea to shorten the link to avoid a cut-off URL.

10. Using Too Few or Too Many Hashtags

Hashtags are important for expanding your reach and engaging with the rest of the Twitter community. However, using too many can make your tweet #look #cluttered or #difficult to #understand. Tweets with one to three hashtags are fine, but any more than that’s pushing the limit. Also, be careful not to use hashtags with too many words. These can be difficult to read since hashtags don’t have punctuation or spaces.

11. Beginning a Tweet with "@"

When you begin a tweet with @username, only people following you and that specific user will see it. That means any time you've replied directly to a tweet in the past, it wasn't reaching all of your followers! When responding to a tweet that you’d like more people to see, include at least a character (like a period or comma) before the @username and you'll get a lot more mileage out of it.

12. Not Using Links

Using links, in terms of ROI, will help you get the most out of your tweets. Linking back to content on your site is excellent for driving traffic and visibility. Also links allow you to make your tweets much shorter while still promoting lengthy content. Similar to hashtags, links can really boost your shareability on Twitter and give users the depth that they are looking for once they have found tweets or companies that interest them. 

13. Only Linking to Your Site

While links are important, be careful you’re not only linking to your site. This isn’t just annoying – it also looks like you’re shamelessly promoting your business. This really isn’t what social media’s about. There’s a fine line between making it easy for customers to find your website and spamming them.

14. Not Tweeting Images

Images are a relatively new feature to Twitter, but they're a great way to get more attention on your tweets. Tweets with image links receive a lot more attention than those without them. According to Buffer, images can double a tweet's engagement. This isn't saying you have to include an image in every tweet, but using them here and there can expand your reach twofold.

15. Tweeting on the Wrong Account

Some of the most embarrassing Twitter faux pas have occurred when someone mistakenly tweeted from the wrong account. For example, a Red Cross employee accidentally posted the following tweet from the company’s account instead of her own:

Even the U.S. government isn’t above posting an accidental tweet. The following tweet was sent from the Secret Service’s official account:

16. Using "RT" Instead of "Retweet"

If you're not getting as many retweets as much as you like, it simply may be because you're not asking for them the right way. Studies have shown that users who ask for retweets are much more like to receive them. Furthermore, those who spell out the word "retweet" instead of using "RT" foster much more engagement. 

Tweets with RT in them receive 12 times more shares than those that don't mention retweets at all. Actually using the word “retweet” will increase your chance of being shared by about 23 times.

Avoid these mistakes, and with any luck you’ll have success growing your audience and marketing your business on Twitter. What would you add? Please share your own Twitter no-nos in the comments below.

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