Mistake #1: Failing to identify yourself. People like to interact with other people, not nameless, faceless brands. In your brand’s Twitter profile, it should identify the person tweeting. No need for a lengthy explanation—a simple “Tweets by Mary Smith” will suffice. If multiple people are tweeting on the same account, you can “sign” your tweets using a separator (such as ^ or ~) and your initials. Keep it short—anything longer than that will hog up characters.
Mistake #2: Sending auto “thanks for the follow” messages. There’s debate on both sides of this one, but I say it’s a no-no. Nothing says “you’re talking to a machine” more than those auto-replies.
Mistake #3: Not reading the articles whose links you retweet. When you retweet something, you are giving it a virtual “stamp of approval” from your brand. Make sure you know exactly what you’re retweeting and that you trust the source. This is especially important for brands in the health/wellness/medical community.
Mistake #4: Getting too personal. Nobody cares if you had a fantastic chicken salad sandwich for lunch or that you’re going to swim laps at the gym after work. But you can personalize your tweets while still staying “on brand”. Tweet your excitement about a new product, respond to your customers with enthusiasm and even the occasional “I” statement. (However, it’s far better to stick to the pronoun “we” when tweeting for a brand.)
Mistake #5: Saying “Please RT”. If you tweet something interesting, it will get retweeted. Asking for RTs makes you appear as if you have no confidence in the value of your content. It also looks kind of desperate.
Mistake #6: Tweeting too many times in a row. Not only is that annoying to followers, but it just doesn’t make sense. Spread out your tweets and make sure to intersperse “real” tweets (such as @ replies) between marketing messages and pushing content. And for goodness’ sake, stay off of chats and Twitter parties. Your customers may forgive their friends for clogging up your feeds during #blogchat, but they’ll have little tolerance for that from a brand. Conference tweeting is acceptable only if you’re tweeting content relevant to your customers (and you don’t go overboard).
Mistake #7: Using joke hashtags. #iamnotkidding #notappropriateforacompanyaccount.
[Update: Yes, I know I said 6 mistakes in the title and I actually listed 7. I made a little numbering error, thoughtfully pointed out to me by @econwriter5. Perhaps my next blog post should be “Mistakes to avoid when writing a numbered list”. :)]