Social media is a great free tool that businesses can — and should — take advantage of. Twitter, especially, is one of the best platforms for actively engaging with your brand's audience, but if you make the wrong moves, you could find yourself tweeting into the void, or worse, offending potential customers.
Business News Daily asked social media experts about the 10 worst things brands and businesses can do on Twitter. Tweet your way to the top by avoiding these major mistakes.
1. Don't oversell your brand.
"One of the biggest mistakes that brands can make on Twitter is being too brand-centric in their messaging, and forgetting what social media is about — community! Though it may seem counterintuitive to increasing brand awareness, the most successful social media marketing programs focus more on sharing third-party articles and building relationships within communities, rather than only sharing your brand's messaging and driving [traffic] to your website. A good rule of thumb is to stick to 80 percent third-party content/community engagement, and 20 percent brand-related posts." – Ginny Torok, social media consultant and digital marketing director, IDMD
2. Don't ignore feedback (even if it's negative).
"The No. 1 mistake I see businesses make on Twitter is not using it to address customer feedback. In an age where experience is everything, it is not sufficient to simply monitor social media. Businesses must begin to nurture relationships — built from both positive and negative feedback. Not responding to customer comments made via social platforms is akin to ignoring emails, but [it's] worse, as it is amplified in a public space. If brands want to be successful in the digital age, they must put aside fear and engage with consumers openly and honestly in the public forum. Those that dive in, and are tactful in their approach, will be rewarded." – Christopher Martin, digital marketing and search specialist, FlexMR
3. Don't be ignorant about trending topics.
"One of the most common and biggest mistakes that brands have been guilty of is relenting to FOMO (fear of missing out). Before tweeting condolences on a tragedy, or weighing in on the Grammys, social marketers need to ask: 'Why is this relevant to our brand? Will this provide value to our audience? Are we sharing something unique or beneficial?' If the answer is 'no,' you're better off sitting this one out." – Sam Weber, marketing coordinator, opendorse
4. Don't forget (or abuse) hashtags.
"Small businesses don't typically use hashtags in their tweets. When you have a limited number of followers, the use of hashtags becomes especially important. Hashtags can greatly expand a tweet's reach and the number of views of the message. Although using several hashtags on every tweet is annoying, most business tweets should have one or two tags. Searching for relevant hashtags before tweeting is smart, too." – Nathan Yates, owner and lead Web design consultant, Forward View Consulting [#Hashtagging 101: 4 Guidelines for Small Businesses ]
5. Don't offend your followers.
"The biggest mistake that businesses and brands can make on Twitter [is] being offensive — on purpose or by accident. Tweets can spread like wildfire, and can snowball into an all-out attack. Even though a company may quickly delete a controversial tweet, people could've taken photos [or screenshots], and it can end up in the news. There have been instances where companies had to make a public statement addressing the tweet and apologizing, which further ignites the discussion and spreads the news. However, it is better to address and make amends for mistakes than ignore the outrage and voices of people on the platform." – Leeyen Rogers, vice president of marketing, JotForm
6. Don't forget the search function.
"I find a lot of companies are not using the Twitter search function to see what's being said about them. A lot of times, people aren't savvy enough — or might be too lazy to find the company's account on Twitter — to include the "@" handle in their tweets, so companies are missing out on what's being said about them. There can be a lot done with monitoring mentions. For example, when someone recommends your product and you're not tagged in it, you can jump in and thank them for the recommendation and let the other person in the conversation know [that], if they have questions, to contact you. This is impressive and shows immediate positive customer service from your end." – Beverley Jackman, social media strategist, Top Draw
7. Don't automate everything.
"Businesses on Twitter often make the mistake of overautomating their accounts. In other words, they're scheduling every tweet, sending automated direct messages, automatically posting their Facebook updates and more, all without any authentic interaction. On its own, scheduling tweets is a fine way to stay top-of-mind, but you have to monitor your channels closely, and respond promptly. I see businesses essentially turn their Twitter accounts into ghost towns. That's no way to build a following. In fact, that's certainly one way to get unfollowed." –Nicholas Scalice, inbound marketing consultant and founder, Earnworthy
8. Don't forget to optimize your content.
"We often see brands take a ton of time considering and optimizing content for Facebook, but then turn around and slap the exact same content on Twitter. For content to truly be effective on Twitter, it needs to be respectful of what resonates on the channel. This doesn't mean that repurposing content is bad; it actually can be quite efficient. But many brands miss out on gaining any tangible value from Twitter simply because they don't take the time to understand how to repurpose and optimize content for maximum efficiency on the channel." – Lisa Braziel, vice president of strategy, Ignite Social Media
9. Don't have an inconsistent brand voice.
"Inconsistency of brand voice [is a mistake]. Followers expect the same tone of voice and 'personality' from an account — that's probably why they follow it. Going off-topic or tweeting in a different tone can instantly alienate a brand's following." –Jodie Cook, managing director, JC Social Media
10. Don't pretend to belong to a group you don't understand.
"The biggest mistake brands and businesses continue to make is appropriating urban and youth culture as their own when they don't do the work of understanding what their brand stands for and why it exists on its own and on Twitter. Young people — seemingly 90 percent of brands' aspirational targets — can tell when someone non-native is trying to leverage their culture." – Michael Burch, vice president of digital, Team Epiphany