The 5 Biggest Twitter Mistakes You Are Making Today

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About 50 percent of my week is spent on Twitter (This falls under my job description. Seriously.) Both personally and professionally, I’m drawn to the openness of the network and the ability to find and connect with people from all over the world. I spend my Twitter time browsing my feed for current events or trending topics, interacting with my connections and participating in (or running) Twitter chats. I’ve come across my fair share of really amazing and successful activity on the network. I’ve also seen quite a few missteps along the way.

I realize not everyone is a Twitter expert, but there are certain standards that all should know to truly stand out and best connect on the social channel. In this post, I’ll outline the five mistakes I most often see others make as they engage on Twitter:

  • Avoiding Twitter chats or not engaging in the correct format
  • Bad etiquette
  • Not giving due credit
  • Absence of lists
  • Ignoring tactics used by influencers

Avoiding Twitter chats or not engaging in the right format

Twitter chats are an often-overlooked tactic that can greatly benefit a person or organization. They are happening all the time: every day of the week at just about any hour. Here is a great, ongoing list of all the chats around. I jump in two to five chats per week. While a chat usually lasts a full hour and can be a big time suck if you’re participating in many each week, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your full attention. Even if you do jump into the chat late, do your best to catch up by searching for the discussion questions and getting up to speed.

The Twitter chat format is pretty straightforward. The moderator of the chat phrases the first question with “Q1” in front of it, then participants are supposed to use “A1,” “A2,” etc. at the beginning of their answer (do not use the “Q” unless you’re the one moderating.)

The connections you can make from joining these weekly conversations are unlimited. The bond formed from routinely meeting online produces the same rewards as doing this in person. With so many times/dates/topics, not joining in a chat here and there is certainly a missed opportunity.

Bad etiquette

Twitter’s inherent openness can seemingly encourage eavesdropping (both warranted and creepy). This kind of listening can be invaluable in finding new prospects or members of your community, but rudely butting into conversations and self-promoting is not welcome by anyone’s standard.

If you come across a dialog that you want to jump on, first do a little research. Make sure you’re not assuming your brand is a good solution. Do your due diligence to find out that person’s situation and needs. If so, take a lighthearted approach and don’t speak in absolutes. Offer your input and then wait. If the person is not interested, politely see yourself out of the conversation.

Not giving due credit

When an individual gets published, whether they’re a writer or not, it’s a big accomplishment. Writing takes research and attention, not to mention dozens of edits. It’s really rewarding to see others take notice and share content via social channels.

If a site is set up for easy sharing, the handle of the author, publication or both populates in the tweet. If not, it might take a quick search to make sure you’re referencing both correctly.

Mentioning the individual and/or publication is best practice for giving credit where it’s due. Plus, it alerts the author that you found the post valuable and wanted to share it with your community. Just a mention might trigger a new relationship leading to new opportunities.

Absence of lists

Twitter lists can be a time intensive endeavor to create and maintain, but are useful to keep track of the vastness of Twitter. Twitter allows you to openly connect with just about anyone and this leads to a great number of connections. Lists help keep a sense of order.

Lists can be made public or private- public to allow others to utilize the group or private to keep personal tabs on users. Public groups can be a great way to show your community that you see them as an expert in a certain category. If maintaining lists really is beyond your reach, start by subscribing to a few. You can see how others curate them first, then follow suit.

Ignoring tactics used by social media influencers

Reputations don’t just magically appear. Social media influencers are just that because they’ve worked hard to get there. Check out what Jay Baer, Gary Vaynerchuk or Mari Smith have to say about engaging on social. They have the experience and the stats to support their tactics.

Follow their advice, but always take it in stride as to how you can apply it specifically to your brand. Research other experts in your industry and follow and engage with them on Twitter. Often, these influencers will be listening and may even respond right away!

Avoid these Twitter pitfalls and you’ll be on your way to mastery of the social network. I’m always happy to chat and help guide your way through the craziness- tweet me @sprout_sarah!

photo credit: ktpupp via photopin cc

Author information

Sarah Nagel

Sarah Nagel
Social Marketing Specialist at Sprout Social

Sarah Nagel is passionate about bridging online and offline communications. She is dedicated to providing value to others through knowledge, advice or job opportunities. Sarah appreciates the ever-changing landscape of social media and loves learning about new tools and platforms. She is a strong advocate of brands using social as a recruiting, sales and as an R&D tool, among other functions, and sees the incredible value of social business. Sarah works as a Social Marketing Specialist at Sprout Social Inc. in Chicago, Illinois and focuses on outbound, proactive marketing efforts across social media channels.

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