Ten Things Not to Do on Twitter

Twitter takes time, attention and care in order to be an effective communications tool.

Aliza Sherman
4-minute read
Episode #40


Hi there, the Digital Marketer here, ready to help you put the power of the Internet and technology to work for your business.

It is no secret that I love Twitter. I find it to be an important and influential communications tool with an impact on the way we communicate, and I believe that these days, Twitter is as powerful as e-mail -- if not moreso. 

Just as we've all had to learn how to properly use e-mail, we could probably use a few lessons on how to best use Twitter -- and how not to use it. We're still figuring out the details, of course, so the rules I'm about to share with you could change over time.

Do Not Do This on Twitter

Here are my 10 Ways Not to Use Twitter.

1. Don't Forget Strategy. Before you set up your Twitter account, don't forget that adding Twitter to your communications and marketing mix should be a strategic decision. You should have clear goals in place and be prepared to measure the success of your Twittering efforts.

2. Don't Fail to Integrate. Twitter should not exist in a vacuum but instead be integrated with your blog, your MySpace page, your Facebook page, your website and more. You can do this through widgets, using RSS feeds, and through other technical means. The key is to make sure Twitter and all of your social media accounts are interconnected.

3. Don't Lose Focus. The most successful Twitterers have built reputations based on niche areas of expertise or topics of conversation. While Twitter can be spontaneous and the flow of information can vary from day to day, keeping a core focus to your tweets can help you grow a loyal audience of followers.

4. Don't Follow Everyone. While there is a temptation to follow the entire world the moment you sign up for Twitter in hopes that they will follow you back, be more strategic about who you follow. Start with some of the Twitter luminaries to learn the ropes, such as Chris Brogan, CC Chapman and Queen of Spain. If you work with nonprofits, Beth Kanter is a must-follow.

5. Don't Friend Everyone. As people follow you, try to be a little discriminating in terms of who you follow back. By following someone back, you are becoming their "friend" on Twitter which gives them greater access to you through direct messages. While some people follow everyone who follows them, my advice is to be strategic and only follow people with whom you share interests or whose tweets can add value to your information flow.

6. Don't Auto-Respond. There are several applications - including the social quiz maker called Social Too -- that allow you to create auto-responding messages when people follow you. Those are impersonal, sound fake and can turn people off and lead them to unfollow you. If you really want to cultivate meaningful relationships on Twitter, respond personally.

7. Don't Put Everything On SMS. While the beauty of Twitter is that you can tweet from your mobile device, be very careful how many people's tweets you set to arrive via text messaging. You'll go crazy receiving all those messages, and if you don't have an unlimited SMS plan, you'll rack up a wicked bill.

8. Don't Limit Yourself to One Platform. You can use Twitter from the Web or from a desktop application such as Tweetdeck or Twhirl. You can also use straight text messaging by sending the message to 40404. And you can use a mobile or iPhone app like Twitterlator. However you decide to tweet, don't feel you have to stick to one platform. Use the one that best suits you at the moment.

9. Don't Add More Accounts Too Quickly. Some people feel they must have a personal Twitter account and then a business account followed by an account for their new project and another for a product. Keep things simple and start with a single account. Learn how to use Twitter well, build a following, and only when you have a legitimate reason to break apart your audience, start a new account. I have a number of accounts but only use my main one daily. My others include a mommy-themed account -- Babyfruit -- and one to handle my Second Life announcements -- CybergrrlOh.

10. Don't Forget Common Courtesy. Overall, Twitter is a watercooler, a conference call, a conversation. Be polite, respectful and kind. Reference others in your tweets by using an @ sign followed by their Twitter name. Listen to the conversations already going on, and participate meaningfully. There is something to be said for genuine kindness on Twitter -- it goes a long, long way.

Bottom Line: The rules are still changing with Twitter and all the new ways we can communicate and market, but you can never be too thoughtful or too nice. Yes, the Golden Rule applies on Twitter and throughout the social mediasphere.

Oh, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alizasherman.

Contact Me

That's all we have time for today. Visit the show’s website at digitalmarketer.quickanddirtytips.com for links to all of the sites mentioned in the show. If you'd like to ask a question or request a topic for The Digital Marketer, email me at digitalmarketer@quickanddirtytips.com or leave a message by calling 206-339-6279.

Tune in for another business boost from the Digital Marketer, the host who's not afraid to go under the Internet's hood & get a little dirty


Twitter - http://www.twitter.com

Aliza Sherman - http://www.twitter.com/alizasherman

Babyfruit - http://www.twitter.com/babyfruit

Cybergrrl Oh  - http://www.twitter.com/cybergrrloh

Chris Brogan - http://www.twitter.com/chrisbrogan

CC Chapman - http://www.twitter.com/cc_chapman

Queen of Spain - http://www.twitter.com/queenofspain

Beth Kanter - http://www.twitter.com/kanter

Beth Kanter (feed of blog posts) - http://www.twitter.com/bethkanter

Tweetdeck - http://www.tweetdeck.com

Twhirl - http://www.twhirl.org

Social Too - http://www.socialtoo.com

Twitter.com image courtesy of Shutterstock