How your business can avoid pitfalls on Twitter

As well as having real benefits for many businesses, Twitter has limitations and risks. Twitter will only be useful in marketing if your customers a) use it and b) follow you. Many people don't use Twitter. Many Twitter users are inactive. And very few tweets lead to someone clicking on a link to buy something, so it's not a guaranteed way to generate a lead or convert interest to sales.

Common mistakes businesses make using Twitter are listed here, so that you can avoid them.

Spamming

Too much monologue about your business and how great it is can be seen as spamming, and is a breach of Twitter's unwritten rules. People can 'unfollow' you as easily as they can follow you, and worse, Twitter makes it very easy for them to tell everyone they know how much you've annoyed them, so make sure you're not sending a stream of tweets that could be seen as spam. It can help to put yourself in the shoes of your audience and think about how they will interpret your tweet: is it helpful, is it fun, does it give them something extra like an incentive?

Disappointing your audience

Examples of disappointment with Twitter performance includes recent scandals about 'cash for comment' tweets by celebrities, and concerns about the use of irrelevant hashtags to improve search appearances. Be careful to be seen to be above board in all your Twitter dealings.

Trying to force positive comment

Twitter is 'grass roots' in nature. Where it works well is when people spontaneously comment positively about a product or service. There are a number of cases of companies trying to generate positive feedback through promotional campaigns that have backfired on them. Think through any promotions that try to solicit positive feedback to be sure the results will be helpful for your business.

Brand damage

Twitter can't be controlled. If your product or service isn't up to scratch, or your followers feel cheated, Twitter makes it very easy for people to spread negative feedback. Businesses need to monitor what is being said about them through Twitter and respond appropriately, even if this means apologising for errors or poor performance and telling people how you plan to improve.

Thinking it's free

While it's free to sign up for Twitter, using it well requires resourcing. You need to allocate staff time to maintaining and monitoring your Twitter presence. And you may want to spend some of your marketing budget on trying to build a following through promotions and discounts or advertising.

Unauthorised tweets

Posting to the wrong Twitter account can be a risk because people who use Twitter for their business often have a separate personal account. Depending on the nature of the message this can prove embarrassing and even damaging to your brand. Ensure that you put a process into place that separates your personal use from your business use. For example, never log into your private account on your work computer.

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