There are numerous ways to make mistakes on Twitter. Here are our Dirty Dozen of the more commonly made mistakes to be aware of.
1. Ignore bad press at your peril! Many small businesses assume that if you ignore a problem on Twitter it will disappear. The thing to remember is that it takes you months and even years to build a reputation, which can be seriously wrecked within the seconds in the time it takes to Tweet about a mistake you made. You need to respond to bad PR quickly to nip potential fall out in the bud. Your priority is damage limitation. Be seen to be responding and taking complaints seriously. If the matter is a simple one, which can be resolved in 140 characters, all the better. Alternatively, request a DM (direct message) with contact details and deal with it quickly.
We all make mistakes. Admitting them, apologising unreservedly and learning from the process is what will help you get over negative situations faster and if you handle it well, you may even gain kudos in the process. The Twitterati will be watching and if you do not respond, or worse still, you deny or cover up, more will be made of your bad press. The immediacy of Twitter means matters can escalate at speed, so it is vital for you to bite the bullet, admit to mistakes and do your best to resolve issues.
To keep a conversation between the two of you, use DM’s. When messaging them with the @username feature, be sure that you are keeping it between the two of you and not publicly embarrassing them or singling them out. If, however, you want everyone to see your reply, add a ‘full stop’ before the @user.
So, if for instance, you think a conversation you are involved in will help your PR, e.g. chatting with a colleage and you want everyone to see the conversation, refer to them as “.@user” with the full stop included. That gives you more exposure.
2. Incomplete Profiles. Lack of attention to detail in your Twitter window will lose your credibility and conversions. Make sure you have your website URL to drive visits, your business logo for your icon and a header photo that expresses what you do and is eye-catching. Your mini bio should contain a key word and reflect what you do accurately.
3. Not Treating Your Different Followers Separately. You will want to automate as much of your social media management as possible to save time. So it is understandable that you may want to set up your Twitter and Facebook accounts to be directly linked, so that Twitter post automatically appear on your Facebook page. This makes no allowance for the fact that some of your Facebook Friends do not use Twitter, or understand the hashtags you use or even Twitter-specific abbreviations.This can also have a negative impact amongst your Twitter followers who are you’re your friends on Facebook, because they may then perceive your company as cutting corners and careless, because you’re not genuinely connecting with anyone on Facebook.
4. Missing The Golden Hashtag Ratio. Twitter isn’t always an exact science. Like all marketing, there has to be an element of testing the water. There are no right and wrong answers to what is the correct amount of hashtags to insert into a Tweet. Try split testing responses with more or less, but keeping the words the same and see what happens. Observe your competitors and learn from them. Key words are absolutely easier to find amongst followers with hashtags. Arguably, search engines will index your copy without them. Just think about who you are targeting and what their interest is.
5. Make More Room. As you only have 140 characters, always shorten URLs by using other software, such as Bit.ly, Social Sprout, or Hootsuite, as discussed earlier. Sometimes you may share a link you find interesting online and see that their link is so long, you have to cut the text that is automatically inserted. Whenever you are scheduling and setting up links in advance, use URL shorteners as you go.
6. Know The Limits of Automation. If you use software for Twitter account management like SocialSprout or Hootsuite, be aware that you may be trading some benefits off against others. For instance, you cannot refresh any pinned Tweets from much of the software available for Twitter automation. However, such automation tools will let you set up a bunch of Tweets ahead of schedule to go out at specified times, which allows you to manage your time more effectively.
7. No Mixed Media. On your profile page, there is a section on the left showing videos and images posted. People like mixed media as it shows your brand in a more interesting light; it humanises what might otherwise seem a faceless organisation or company. Mix it up a little to attract more viewers.
8. Stale Content. The key to Twitter is consistency of engagement. Schedule in Twitter posting time to your day, or delegate management. Remember to keep your pinned tweet under review too; aim to refresh this once a fortnight if you can, particularly if you are offering time limited promotions. Ensure your brand images are still relevant and consistent across your marketing media. Some people are afraid of updating logos, brand colours and tag lines, because they fear not being recognised. However, people adjust more than you realise, so long as you give good information in the lead up period and followers experience consistency across platforms, people adjust; it is inconsistency at any single point in time that creates confusion and puts people off.
9. Not Staying Focussed. If you do not use Twitter consistently, it is easy to make slip ups because you are not in the habit. If Twitter’s CFO can even slip up on his own company’s platform it can happened to anyone. Last year, Anthony Noto slipped up and tweeted a message that was probably meant to be private, recommended buying a key selfie app company. He tweeted: “I still think we should buy them. He is on your schedule for Dec 15 or 16–we will need to sell him. i have a plan.” #Embarrassing!
10. Not Doing Your Research on Hashtags. This can lead to some deeply embarrassing gaffs. Occasionally the domestic violence hashtag #WhyIStayed trends on Twitter when there has been a high profile case. DiGiorno Pizza company clearly did not get message and tried to join the conversation, tweeting “You had pizza”. The responses received woke them up to reality and the company apologized, pleading ignorance.
11. Never Under-estimate Social Media Power. There was a high profile Twitter shaming of Union Street Guest House who were exposed for their practice of making people pay for bad reviews. The hotel routinely fined wedding guests $500 for negative online reviews. They tried to lie and claim it was a joke, but it backfired. A similar incident was reported on a Radio 4 consumer programme who were also shamed.
12. Crowd Saucing. If you have not got anything valuable to say and your brand is struggling, be aware that a makeover may leave you with custard pies in your face. For instance, when McDonald’s tried to debut an updated version of their slightly disturbing clown with the hashtag #RonaldMcDonald, they underestimated the lack of respect amongst the wider republic for their brand. The Twitterati pretty much threw eggs in the face of their clown’s makeover and lambasted their food. We are not sure what lesson can be drawn here other than if you are a mega-million brand, occasionally you may just fall foul of some Twitter audiences whose emotional responses can vary.
The main lesson from Twitter is to continue to keep your ear to the Twittersphere and learn from your own and others’ mistakes alike. Twitter audiences range from the simplistic to the sophisticated and everywhere between. Whilst mistakes in the learning process will be inevitable, mostly they will be hiccups and be reparable. The only way to continually improve on your Twitter marketing is to monitor responses to your posts regularly and watch how others hit their audience’s hot buttons to galvanise action. Take a look at the emotions that stirs the shares and work this into your strategy for Twitter communications. Test and review regularly, especially if you are planning an expensive launch, remember to test the water in advance and if necessary, seek professional advice from Twitter or social media specialists.