Twitter tips: 10.5 things you’re still doing wrong on social media

Twitter fail

Oops? Some so-called “experts” are still doing social media wrong, so review these Twitter tips to help.

1. Asking questions that you can get answers to elsewhere
I don’t mind if you post a photo of a new hat and ask people if they think it’s a good look for you, but please stop asking questions when you can get the answer elsewhere. “Hey what time is the game on?” “What channel is that show?” “How do you cook grilled cheese?” Use Google, a TV Guide or a calculator and look up answers yourself.

2. Tweeting without context or explanation
“Oh my god.” “What just happened.” “No way.” “I hate this so much.” The worst posts are the short little reactions to something that your followers have NO IDEA what you’re talking about. You may imagine everyone hanging on your every word so they realize that 75 minutes ago you were tweeting about the football game so they should assume you’re still talking about it, but NO ONE FOLLOWS JUST ONE PERSON. (Except @KanyeWest.) As a result, most people see your thoughts in a mix of posts about news, sports, work, music, personal life, food, etc. — so I have no idea if you’re angry about not getting enough ketchup on your burger or that your best friend forgot your birthday or your favorite character kissed the one you hate on a cable TV show. We’re not literally “following” your every move, so don’t assume we are. Add a hashtag or some other clue to what you’re talking about.

3. Tweeting with a . in front of @ mentions — every time
A good number of Twitter users probably don’t realize that if a tweet starts with an @ mention (i.e. “@MileyCyrus I love you!”) then the only ones who’ll see it are users who follow both you and the account you’re mentioning (and, of course, the account you’re mentioning). It brilliantly keeps conversations from cluttering Twitter feeds, but some have figured out that any reply/mention can be made visible to all followers by putting a period or other punctuation in front of the tweet (i.e. “.@MileyCyrus I want everyone to know I love you”). Use it sparingly — never for out-of-context tweets or conversations your followers aren’t part of (i.e. “.@MileyCyrus Your last tweet was great”).

4. Flooding feeds with Twitter chats or live-tweets
Twitter considers 45 tweets an hour to be spam and some people get dangerously close to it during chats or live-tweeting sports, which is understandable if they’re passionate about the topic. But for the sake of followers who aren’t interested, please do two things: 1) Warn people of the impending flood (“Hey I’m about to join a #xyzchat at noon”) or be ready to apologize after. We’ll always forgive it if you don’t act entitled, like we should hang on your every word. And 2) Minimize annoyance by tweeting unique thoughts with context and avoid unnecessary notes (“Next chat Q coming up in a moment”? Just ask the question).

5. Tweeting about trending topics just because they’re trending
Often trending topics are related to news — so don’t ask “why is Snooki trending?” just click on it and you’ll get your answer. Other times, trends are from what’s on TV or a popular user who started it. Don’t respond like the trending topics are talking to you (i.e. “OMG Mean Girls is trending, that reminds me of that time Sheila was mean to me”). Do feel free to join trending hashtag conversations, but don’t hijack them to promote your crap (i.e. “Check out my new photo! [link] #yolo #imsosickof #twitterconfessions #starwars”).

Facebook Thumbs Down

Facebook posts that automatically post to Twitter? Thumbs down!


6. Facebook posts that feed to Twitter, Twitlonger, etc.
It’s not quantum physics: Twitter has a 140 character limit. If you go over 140, whether through Twitlonger or another service that feeds to Twitter, then people have to click to see what else you said — it’s annoying. Also, keep in mind that if you feed Facebook to Twitter and you post a link on Facebook, your Twitter followers have to click the link to see the Facebook post before they can click the link you want them to — twice the clicks.

7. Inconsistent voice
Dear “community managers” and “brand ambassadors”: If the account represents a business with more than one person, the voice is always “we,” never “I.” Opinions should not be given, unless it’s about the brand (“We think our new thing is amazing!”) or a strong affiliate (“Pepsi thinks Beyoncé is going to rock #SB47!”). And hashtags should be consistent — stick to one tag for the brand and its customers to follow.

7.5. Accidentally posting personal tweets on professional accounts
To err is human, so sometimes you’ll “accidentally” post on the wrong Twitter account. If that happens, delete the tweet, apologize and move on — do not spend the rest of the day/week addressing or explaining the error and, most importantly, do not chastise followers upset by your mistake. It’s your mistake.

8. Hyperbole
How many concerts have you been to that are truly “epic”? Is this really “the worst” restaurant experience you’ve ever had? Opinions make things more interesting on social media (and in real life), so we want to know what movies you liked or hated but curb your enthusiasm when referring to extremes. I expect a 4-year-old to have a new “favorite” toy three times a day, but when you tweet “that was my favorite episode ever of all time” three times a week we assume you’re the least discerning person. Of all time.

9. When breaking news becomes “the telephone game”
Rumors quickly became fact on social media, and false news can spread because you’re tweeting based on what someone tweeted based on what someone else tweeted, etc. Being correct is more important than being first, so check sources and post updates based on credible information.

10. Calling yourself a “guru,” “ninja” or “master”
Adage found that, as of January 2013, more than 181,000 Twitter bios describe themselves as social media gurus, masters, ninjas or mavens. Stop it. How can you master something that’s barely a decade old and is constantly evolving?

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