One of the hardest parts about learning something new is that you have little ability to distinguish fact from fluff. You want to soak up as much information as possible without having to fact check every blog post you read on something new.
Unfortunately, in the social media marketing space, you'll find lots "get rich quick" type schemes -- but some of those "tips" and "tricks" people peddle won't actually work. We've already debunked some of the biggest "tips" and "tricks" folks will tell you about Facebook, so we figured we'd move onto another social network and do some more. If you're looking to get the inside scoop on what works on Twitter -- and what really, really doesn't -- keep on reading. Here are the most egregiously inaccurate suggestions for building your business on Twitter.
1) Try the follow, pause, unfollow trick.
One easy way to get new followers? Prey on people's sense of reciprocity.
I kid ... but that's essentially what this "tip" is. To get more followers, person A will follow person B. Because person B is polite and wants to maintain the rules of the Twitter cocktail party, person B will follow person A back. Person A will then wait a few days after they've been followed back ... then unfollow person B. This process continues (usually aided by some automated tools) until person A has lots and lots of followers.
Talk about a terrible way to grow your business. Sure, you may end up with lots more followers, but chances are that these people you're scamming into following you aren't exactly the type that'll want to engage with you, click your links, become leads, and maybe even buy from you -- especially once they realized they've been hoodwinked into following you. Don't set yourself up for failure by playing games like this -- focus on growing your presence organically.
2) Buy followers.
Same deal here as the last "tip" -- buying followers is strict no-no, and it yields no results. People think that the number of followers is the only number that matters when building a presence on Twitter, but it's not. If you're buying a bunch of fake followers, you're not going to move the numbers that matter -- you know, like the traffic, leads, and customers you bring in through Twitter. Focus on making a big impact there.
3) Hashtag everything.
You want more eyeballs on your tweets, and hashtags help you get in front of audiences that care about certain topics. Why not load up your tweets with as many relevant ones as possible?
You shouldn't. It doesn't work. A report from Salesforce revealed that tweets with one or two hashtags receive 21% higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags. You're better off including one relevant hashtag than overloading.
4) Send auto DMs.
People will justify auto DMs by saying they help start personal conversations -- but there's nothing personal about it. It's just a mass message sent to anyone who follows you. And it's feels like that on the other end. There's no personalization token, no specific information used for each person. It's just one generic message. Stay away from enabling these so you don't get unfollowed by those who recently followed you.
5) Interject your content in conversations.
One best practice we preach about social monitoring is to keep saved searches for keywords relevant to your business -- that way, you can strike up conversations with people who are most relevant to your business. But the key part of the last sentence was "strike up conversations," not "distribute your content."
Don't send your content off to every single person every single time they tweet with a relevant keyword. Instead, try a lower touch form of communication first for some of those people. Try following them, or replying to them without a link. Sometimes interjecting your content into a relevant conversation works, and other times it backfires. Try to switch it up so you don't come across as a self-serving spammer.
6) Reply to every single tweet mentioning you.
There's no reason to thank every single person who tweets the title of your article with your handle. Now, if they include a note or personalized the tweet in some way, you should reply -- they took time to reach out to you, so you should try to do the same. This is one of those more nuanced "tips," but the main takeaway here is that you don't need to interrupt your day every time someone tweets a blog post of yours. Just respond when appropriate.
7) Post only links to your landing pages and blog posts.
I know why you're on social media. You want to build your business. You've signed up for this whole inbound marketing thing, and you've started to create blog posts, offers, and landing pages. Now you just need to promote it. To Twitter!
Not so fast. Yes, you will need to push out your blog posts and landing pages on Twitter, but you should also be tweeting content that isn't your own. Other industry blogs you read, news articles, and responses to your followers are all fair game -- and they should be included in your overall posting strategy. Find a balance, and your Twitter presence will be better for it.
8) Only send tweets at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday.
There's something to be said for the data on social timing. It's helpful to know in general what times work best for your tweets. But the data's not the be-all-end-all for your timing strategy. You've got to take into account what times your audience is on Twitter, and adjust your timing accordingly.
For example, you may see that 3 p.m. on a Tuesday is the best time to tweet -- but your audience is filled with people in another time zone. So you should adjust your timing to reach the people in another time zone at that time, instead of 3 p.m. your time.
Luckily, if you're using a social tool that's connected to your database (such as HubSpot's Social Inbox), you can identify which times of day tweets are yielding the most traffic and leads to your website. Bonus: you can even use the built-in "Suggested Times" to help choose the right timing for your posts.
9) Jump on Trending Topics to get discovered.
You can find these in the bottom left hand corner of your homepage. They're fun to click on to see what's happening in the world, but I wouldn't recommend trying to use them for your long-term Twitter strategy.
Twitter has said that 17% of the top 1,000 search terms on Twitter "churn over" on an hourly basis ... so you may have spent time trying to jump on a trend that no one's paying attention to anymore. It'd be better to spend your time trying to monitor for keywords and trends that your audience, specifically, cares about.
10) Pushing tweets to all other social networks.
You're busy with lots of other things -- posting to Twitter is just one item on your to-do list. But you shouldn't automate your tweets to auto-post to other networks. The networks are all different and require different posting strategies to get the most bang for your buck. So take that extra 10 or 15 minutes to publish to each network individually each day. If you're gonna be on social media at all, you might as well do it right.
11) Optimize your background image.
This is the least malicious tip of all. People will still recommend it, despite the new Twitter layout getting rid of background designs entirely. So don't spend your time trying to get one that looks just right. Once you have the new layout, you'll only need to optimize your profile picture and header, though the new header has different dimensions. So nothing bad will happen to you if you have an image -- you just won't be able to use it in the new layout.
What other Twitter "tips" and "tricks" have you seen fall flat in real life? Share your favorites with us in the comments.
Originally published May 16, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017