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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". :)]

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9 thoughts on “6 Mistakes to Avoid When Tweeting for a Brand

  1. These are great points and something even a small blogger (like me) should consider. I used to be an offender of #2 and recently shut it off. But I do need to consider #5. I actually have a separate twitter account for Twitter parties only. While sometimes I am @charchronicles, it is because my ‘brand’ is participating in the party. But if it is just me, or I don’t need the exposure, I tweet under a separate account. I am sure many of my followers would probably thank me if they knew. :)
    Great post!!

    1. Thanks, Charlene. I’d like to write some posts specifically for smaller bloggers like you (although from what I understand you’re growing…). I know of a tech blogger who uses another account exclusively for chats/parties and I think it’s a great idea. He indicates this in his profile and redirects to his regular account for those who wish to follow him.

  2. These are great tips, and good reminders for seasoned tweeters. Another one to consider is tweeting out a link without an explanation, so followers are left wondering what the tweet is about. I agree on the no joke hashtags, however some hashtags that are relevant to your brand can be enjoyable for followers, such as #growingupfast for a children’s brand, think that also lends some personality to the tweets. Thanks for this!

    1. Thanks, Leah! I really like your addition– tweeting a link without an explanation can be confusing for followers. Although I have been known to be cryptic in an attempt to get more clicks… such as the tweet I did for this post: “Do you RT articles without reading them? http://bit.ly/epB7ti“. I think it depends on what you are trying to accomplish– education or promotion.

  3. Although they are totally unprofessional, I’m personally offended by rule #7. I’m going to assume because I’m not a brand, you laugh at my joke hashtags. Dontcha? DONTCHA? And Please RT? Sucks. No one RTs a Please RT. No one. Also, emoticons should be outlawed. ;)

    1. You are not a brand, so I heart your joke hashtags, Kami. If you were Lysol or Sears, it would be another story.

      I beg to differ on emoticons. I think they’re cute. :) :) :)

  4. lol–I had to totally laugh about the joke hashtags #becausethey’resofun ;-)

    I think you make some really great points Cindy. I was going to semi-disagree with your conference point, but you mentioned relevance. I know as far as nfp brands I really appreciate hearing from conferences, but I guess that might be better suited from a personal account and the brand profile passes along overarching themes rather than the tweet by tweet.

    1. They are so fun, aren’t they? I think all of the points (including the conference one) depend on your brand and your audience. I think relevant conference tweets make sense for some brands, especially b2b companies and thought leaders. But they don’t really make sense for most consumer facing brands.

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