Twitter is often compared to a cocktail party, where friends gather to share information and people connect through common interests.
But if you’re new to the party, there’s a good chance you’re going to make some mistakes.
These aren’t those Twitter mistakes that you read about in the paper or see on TMZ.
These are simple and easy-to-fix mistakes that are often made by people who just don’t know any better. (For me, it took having my boss at my first social media gig telling me to watch my spelling and to lay off the exclamation points.)
For you, I asked around at Constant Contact to see if anyone had any input on mistakes that make businesses look dumb on Twitter. (Also, check out 25 Things that Make You Look Dumb on Facebook.)
Here are 25 things to be aware of on Twitter:
- Not leaving enough space to retweet. The first lesson every Twitter newbie should learn: just because you have 140 characters, doesn’t mean you need to use them all. It’s usually a good idea to keep posts to about 120 characters to allow people who retweet with the RT format the ability to do so without having to edit your tweet for length.
- Not shortening links in your Tweets. This is one of the most common mistakes and it doesn’t need to be. Check out link shorteners like bit.ly or ow.ly. You’ll also be able to track the number of clicks the links you’re sharing get with these tools.
- Looooong Twitter handles. Are you noticing a pattern? If your handle is longer than the first half of your tweet, you’re losing valuable space. Keep handles as short as possible so you have enough room to actually write something.
- Too much self promotion. A little self promotion is good for any business but if your timeline is riddled with “I’s or We’s” and your only retweets are about you, then you’re doing too much. Follow the 80/20 rule. Post 80% helpful or entertaining content and save 20% for the self-promotional stuff.
- #HashtagAbuse. Hashtags are without a doubt the most interesting part of Twitter. But in addition to sometimes being hilarious, they are extremely helpful for organization purposes. Don’t abuse the hashtag, save it for when you need it.
- Not responding to Tweets. If you’re not being social, why are you on social media? You might not be able to respond to everything, but do your best to answer questions and address any negative feedback. And don’t forget to say thanks when it’s positive.
- Automatic direct messages. Too many people send automatic direct messages to new followers. Don’t do this. You don’t want the first impression that you make on your customers to be from a robot.
- Too much negativity. No one wants to follow a depressing tweeter. Keep your tweets positive and your followers will act accordingly.
- QR code avatar. Nowadays you see QR codes in some crazy places, don’t let your Twitter account be one of them. Make your avatar something that reflects you or your brand.
- Too much abbreviation. Sometimes you’re going to have to abbreviate but try not to abandon grammar to the point of being unreadable.
- Spelling errors. Spelling errors are going to happen but try to keep them to a minimum. People will notice them and it can make your business look sloppy. Review before you hit send. (Watch for some common misspellings, like There/Their/They’re/Your/You’re.)
- Tweeting without a strategy. Never tweet just for the sake of tweeting. Take some time to decide why you’re on Twitter and what you want to get from it. Let that guide your content.
- Too much dialogue, not enough content. Twitter is all about sharing content. You want to engage with followers but you also want to give them content that makes them engage with you.
- Too much content, not enough dialogue. Confused yet? It’s all about finding a balance. Unless you’re a news outlet, then I’m looking for more than just news. Use your content to drive engagement from your followers and start a discussion.
- Only tweeting 9-5. No one expects your Twitter to be a 24/7 operation but your followers don’t log off when you go home for the day. Hootsuite is a great option for managing and scheduling tweets.
- Tweeting without the facts. This is the number one way to hurt your credibility and tick your followers off. Be a helpful source of information in your industry, not a rumor mill.
- Tweeting too often. There’s no set formula for how much you should be tweeting. But unless you’re the most interesting person in the world, chances are if you’re clogging up their timeline they’ll get turned off in a hurry.
- USING TOO MANY CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!! You wouldn’t yell at your customers in person, don’t do it on Twitter. Use sparingly for maximum impact.
- Bad talking competition. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Building connections is a great way to build your following and many of your competitors’ followers would likely be happy to follow you too.
- Not connecting your business website to your Twitter account. 80.5% of small businesses DO NOT link their sites to their social networks. Don’t let your business be part of that group. They’re missing potential followers and most importantly customers.
- Outdated Twitter profile. Your profile says a lot about who you are. Tell people what you’re all about and give them a reason to follow. And make sure it’s up-to-date.
- Responding with the same answer from multiple admins. It’s good to respond to people’s tweets, but if multiple people are tweeting from your handle, get on the same page and agree on the right voice for your brand.
- Facebook/Twitter overflow. Connecting your Facebook and Twitter feeds might seem like a good idea but if your Twitter is solely just a feed for your Facebook, then it defeats the purpose of being on Twitter in the first place.
- Asking too many questions. A question can be a great way to get feedback or start a conversation but if you’re constantly asking, “How’s everyone doing?!” and no one is answering then it’s not adding to the conversation.
- Not sharing the love. If people are promoting you on Twitter, show them some love back. A retweet can go a long way on Twitter and so can mentioning someone when you share their article or post.
Didn’t realize so much could go wrong with just 140 characters? Don’t worry.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, is going to make some mistakes when they’re starting off. The best you can do is keep this list in mind and try not to let a couple missteps ruin the party.
This advice is courtesy of Spark & Hustle national sponsor Constant Contact. Constant Contact’s leading email marketing , online survey, event marketing, social media, and deal tools—supported by its expert personal coaching and support—help all types of small businesses and organizations create professional-looking email newsletters and insightful online surveys and begin a dialogue with their customers. Today, more than 500,000 customers worldwide trust Constant Contact to help them connect with their audience. Learn more at www.constantcontact.com.