This is a guest blog post written by our friends Nikki and Tammy at MarketMeSuite, the free social media marketing dashboard.
Twitter can be a great platform for many inbound marketers to connect with potential customers, maintain relationships with current customers, and generate new leads. But that's not to say that all marketers are using it appropriately.
To make sure you're using it the right way, avoid these five deadly sins when utilizing Twitter as part of your inbound marketing program.
1. Thou Shalt Not SPAM
Spamming your followers with endless links to your own website is a sure path to a lack of interest and support and a distinct lack of appreciation.
Do not rely upon automated direct messages. Yes, these types of messages are allowed by Twitter. But many -- if not most -- users find auto DMs both spammy and impersonal. More importantly, they are a dying feature.
All sense of meaning and genuine feeling goes out the proverbial window when you send these robotic and generic thank you's. Try to connect with as many of your followers as you can...personally. The bonus? An alternative message might be less of a hard sell, and as a result, more helpful. Consider saying, "Thanks for following! I can also be reached on @MarketMeHelp if you have any questions."
Don't spam using hashtags. This is a big, nay HUGE, no-no. Some businesses see a trending hashtag on their Twitter feed and then add that hashtag to their own tweets in the often misguided hope that those following the trending hashtag will think will see their irrelevant tweet and think they are awesome. You are not awesome for using that hashtag in your tweet. Avoid doing this at all costs. Your rep will suffer, and it will appear painfully obvious to all that you are promoting where you should not. Reserve hashtag use only for instances when the hashtag is relevant to you and your tweets.
2. Thou Shall Not Drift
Keep your Twitter profile and bio up-to-date. Always. Complacency kills marketability. Any individual stumbling across an out-of-date page is not going to take you seriously, and it won't do anything for your online business reputation, except deflate it. Not tweeting is also part of this sin. No one will be interested in following you if your last tweet was 17 days ago.
Don't be lazy about interacting with others. If someone takes the time to tweet to you, tweet back to them. It's polite, and it builds up customer and prospect relationships. Too many businesses ignore tweets. Remember that @replies aren't the only tweets you should look out for and reply to. There are several free, third-party Twitter apps that allow you to create search panes to monitor mentions of your business, brand, and industry topics to allow you to monitor conversations and participate when appropriate.
3. Thou Shalt Not Blatantly Self-Promote
Although Twitter gives you the opportunity to spread your message, don't use it purely for the purpose of promoting your business, products, and services. You need to keep your social profiles sounding organic and sounding real. Remember that social media implies that there is a human behind each tweet -- a real person you can interact and engage with. Constantly pitching your followers with "Try our product. It's the best!"-type messages will only annoy them. Instead, tweet relevant content to get that inbound marketing engine primed for success. If you're desperate to get your product out there to this audience, consider retweeting others' reviews. Because they are not written by you, this level of outside influence creates an interest and associated trust in your brand.
4. Thou Shalt Not Use Only 140 Characters
Twitter's message convention is inherently restrictive, and sometimes you need to compromise your communication to fit into the 140-character limitation. Consider spreading your longer messages over two or three tweets, instead of a single one. This is not the time to try haiku marketing if your tweet has value.
5. Thou Shalt Not Bash
People tweet, post, comment, or blog about nasty things. This lack of civility happens to individuals and companies each and every day. The very worst thing you can do is react via Twitter in a defensive manner. It can do more damage to your reputation than ignoring the troll. Instead, consider sending a level-headed tweet that says something along the lines of "So sorry you feel that way. Is there anything I/we can do to change your mind?" or DM them with your email address where the conversation can take place privately.
Tweeting uncomplimentary messages about your competition is also considered poor sportsmanship in the digital world. Unadulterated bashing of a competitor will actually create a loss in respect for you and your organization. No one likes overt arrogance and a self-righteous attitude. Keep your negative opinions to yourself, and act in a mature and reasonable manner.
Social media can be a gold mine for lead generation, but it will be little more than a dud if abused. Be personal with your tweets, always interact, and never leave a customer without a response. Think to yourself: "How would I handle this if I were talking to the person face to face?" because your social media engagement needs to be just as real.
What other deadly since should marketers avoid on Twitter?