Tag Archives: twitter


When Scheduling Tweets Is Bad For Your Brand

I don’t know too many brands who don’t schedule their Twitter messages to some degree. Unless companies have a social media team glued to their keyboards 24/7, scheduling tweets on Twitter is a reality for most. And it’s a generally accepted practice – when done well and sparingly, followers often can’t even tell the difference between scheduled and live tweets.

Until a major event occurs that temporarily consumes the Twitterverse. Like a hurricane. Or a presidential election. When everyone is talking about that Big Thing, your scheduled tweet sticks out. Looks… contrived.

And you look like you’re either unaware or don’t care about the Big Thing.

And that looks bad for your brand.

This tweet went out last night at 11pm Eastern to this brand’s 361,000 followers, approximately 15 minutes before Barack Obama was projected winner of the U.S. Presidential election.

Let’s just say most people were not tweeting about makeup at that moment.

What’s most frustrating about “sore thumb” type twitter scheduling is how incredibly easy it is to fix. There’s really no excuse for this out-of-place messaging. Look at the calendar and refine your scheduling for major holidays and national events. If you can’t plan ahead, simply press pause on your scheduling tool. Click. Done.

So the next time Twitter is on fire with matters of national importance, turn off your scheduler and either engage authentically or say nothing at all. I promise you can get back to business tomorrow.
photo credit: wenzday01 via photopin cc

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”. :)]

When people ask me how to get started on Twitter, I tell them this: Find an established Twitter user you like and admire, who is in the same line of work as you (if you’re starting a work account) or the same stage of life/frame of mind as you (if you’re starting a personal account) and follow who THEY are following. Because they’ve been around the Twitter block, and probably know a thing or two about who is worth following and who is just spewing nonsense.

Now that I’ve been on Twitter a year and a half and amassed a couple of thousand followers, I should be one of those “established Twitter users” that newbies would want to emulate, right? I must be following only the most qualified tweeters who have interesting links to share, little pearls of wisdom and humorous 140 character anecdotes.

But no. Somehow I ended up following over 1000 people. Which means my Twitter feed runs like it’s on crack. I barely even watch it, never mind try to keep up with it. If I see something interesting, I need to click immediately or it gets buried under a half dozen tweets in the time it takes to sip my coffee. Thank goodness for Tweetdeck (if you don’t use it, download it immediately) which allows me to segment those 1000 into columns containing the (approximately 50) people whose tweets I actually care to read.

Needless to say I need to do some weeding. But then again, I’m someone who has 15k emails in my inbox, so I’m used to technological clutter. And procrastination. And hoarding.

Anyway, don’t end up like me. The lessons here?

  • Don’t get follow-happy. Follow judiciously—don’t follow everyone who follows you. Especially not the wannabe porn stars. (If you’re gasping, you haven’t been on Twitter very long.)
  • If you feel compelled to follow hoards of people (which is, honestly, a way to build up followers in the beginning), at least do some serious weeding every month.
  • Don’t follow anyone who only posts links, (unless it’s a news feed you want to follow), someone who tweets the same thing over and over, or someone #who #uses #excessive #hashtags. They’re likely a bot, not a person.
  • Similarly, don’t follow anyone with 20k tweets and <100 followers. Bot, not person.
  • Never use a batch follower tool. Unless you want to follow a bunch of porn stars and bots. They’ll probably follow you back, but still.