I am not usually a big fan of rules when it comes to social media, but I do think there are ways to make your experience using tools such as Twitter more beneficial to yourself and others. There are some common mistakes I see new users make that I want to share with you. The good news is, once you are aware of them they are really easy to avoid!
Mistake: Not using a real picture of yourself for your avatar.
When I first joined Twitter over a year ago I was guilty of using a cartoon-type picture of me for mine. I thought it was cute and it happened to be part of the design I had on my previous blog. However, I switched to an actual photo of myself a few months later, and more than a few people commented that they were glad to see the real me.
I feel the same about others now. A picture of you is a lot more personable than a picture of your dog or a company logo. People like to see your smile!
Mistake: Automating pushy direct messages for new followers.
Many Twitter users use a service such as TweetLater to set up automatic messages to go to anyone who begins following them. This is a bit controversial among people on Twitter. If you are automating a friendly message to just say thanks for following me, that’s one thing, but a message with a link to one of your products when we haven’t even connected yet is generally frowned upon.
Mistake: Starting to follow people without posting a couple of your updates.
It may feel like you are talking to yourself to do this, especially if you don’t have any followers yourself. But when someone comes upon your page and is deciding whether or not to follow you, they need something to go on. People are looking for some sign of life or personality.
Mistake: Not spending a good amount of time interacting.
There is nothing wrong with letting others know what you did last night or what your plans are for the day. Just be sure to intersperse your tweets with some two-way conversation. Ask questions, re-tweet others, reply to questions, comment on others tweets, etc. This builds community and keeps things balanced and interesting.
Mistake: Mass following right out of the gate.
My ratio of followers to those I am following is pretty even, mainly because I like to follow back most of the people who follow me as long as they don’t look like spammers.
However, I find it hard to follow others who, in addition to having only a couple of updates, are following thousands of people and have only a few people following them. It feels spammy, like they don’t have much interest in having a relationship or conversation with anyone.
Mistake: Doing everything from the web instead of using a Twitter client.
Installing a client such as Tweetdeck gives you more functionality than what you can do from the Twitter website alone. For example, Tweetdeck allows you to place people in groups which make it easier to keep track of them, especially once you are following lots of people. Plus, you don’t have to be connected to the web to use these types of clients. I find they make tweeting a lot easier and more convenient for keeping track of your replies, direct messages and followers.
Mistake: All promotion, all the time.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, no one likes to follow someone who is constantly selling and promoting without giving anything back. Keep things balanced and respect that others do not want to be pitched all of the time. That being said…
Mistake: Not leveraging Twitter as part of your business marketing strategy.
If you are in business and using social media, you are looking at Twitter as a tool to get results in that business, not to just socialize all day. Remember that it is a great way to reinforce your brand, form strategic alliances and build credibility and trust.© Copyright 2009 Christine M. Gallagher