It’s clear that many small businesses use Twitter but they don’t understand how it works.
You’ll often see accounts where thousands of Tweets have been sent out and yet they only have 25 followers.
This could be down to a range of factors but the simple fact is that unless they share interesting content and make it easy for people to search for it then their following will be restricted to friends, people who live locally and spammers.
There are organisations which will sell you thousands of new followers. I would never advise anyone to take this path, though, since these new ‘followers’ essentially have no interest in you or your ramblings. It may look good on your profile to suddenly have 6,500 followers but unless you have attracted and nurtured them yourself you will effectively be speaking to any empty room.
Working with many small businesses, I have come across no end of Twitter gaffes and by sharing some of them with you it might stop others making the same mistakes.
This is effectively a guide to Twitter best practice by illustrating the key mistakes small business make on it.
Carry on doing the following 10 things if you want your business to be ignored by the Twitterati.
1 Do not upload a personal photograph or a brand logo
Twitter is a social network and people want to see your picture or an image of your company. If you don’t upload either of these, your profile will have just the default egg-shaped avatar and you will blend seamlessly into the background online.
2 Post dozens of Tweets at the same time
This is the equivalent of verbal diarrhoea. As in general life, if you talk too much people will tune you out and stop listening. Much of the attraction of Twitter is the opportunity to receive a series of messages from very different people. No-one wants to see 15 or 20 comments from the same person, one after the other, and if it keeps happening they will unfollow.
3 Leave your profile bio empty
In terms of Twitter ‘crimes’ this is as bad as not having a photograph. The first thing most people do when they see a Tweet from someone new is click on their profile to find out a little about them and assess if they are worth a follow. A bio with no personal information is not going to interest anyone.
4 Don’t Tweet anything for months on end
If you haven’t Tweeted since 2012 people will assume you’ve lost interest and they will almost certainly not follow you. Even a couple of Tweets a month is enough to convince people your business is still alive and kicking and that you are interested in engaging with your audience on Twitter.
5 Post inappropriate or offensive content
The brand of a small business should be reflected in its Twitter account. The odd swear word or a link to dodgy internet content is likely to offend followers which is particularly bad news if they are also customers or clients. The bottom line is that if you are Tweeting on behalf of a company then keep it clean.
6 Conduct bland personal conversations with friends
“@estateagent Hello John, are you going down the pub later?” – “@DrinkingBuddy Yes mate, see you there at 7”.
Keep these inane Twitter conversations going and this friend you are meeting down the pub might eventually be your only follower. Text messages are there to conduct personal conversations which are of no interest to anyone else.
7 Continuously promote your products and services
By all means talk about your new product or service on Twitter but don’t go on about it day after day. Followers will eventually tune out and unfollow.
There is a golden ‘one in four’ rule when it comes to promoting your business. That is, for every promotional Tweet you should post three other Tweets with content about your industry, relevant issues or just personal observations.
8 Repeat the same content day after day
You will often see small businesses Tweeting the same post every day and sometimes several times a day. A promotional post with a nice image will be interesting to customers and clients the first or second time they see it. But not if it keeps on appearing on their timeline. If you have a new product to sell try to vary your Tweets and be subtle about it. Mix personal interests and industry news with your shop talk.
9 Schedule dozens of automated Tweets day after day
There is nothing wrong with using social media tools such as Hootsuite to schedule some Tweets in advance. As a small business owner, it’s understandable that you don’t have time to post Tweets in real time all hours of the day. But a series of automated Tweets soon becomes boring. Twitter is a social network and followers want to interact with humans not robots.
10 Abuse the use of Hashtags
Hashtags (#) help people search for specific terms on Twitter when they are searching for a particular topic or issue. If you consistently include more than three in a Tweet it becomes dull and unreadable. For example:
@bakery Our new #currybread #bread is on sale today #newloaf #loveacurrybread #freshbread #lovelybread
Too many hastags turn your post into jibberish and can obsure the actual content.
I go into more detail on how small businesses should use Twitter in my new book, 66 FREE Way To Promote Your Small Business .
Let me know if you’ve seen these gaffes on Twitter or if you would like to add more to the list by commenting below.