Making Friends: Five Behaviors to Avoid on Twitter

By on Thursday, January 15, 2015

If your New Year’s resolution was to improve your presence on Twitter for yourself, your business or your employer, then here are a few problem behaviors to avoid with some tips on how to improve:

Problem #1: Not educating yourself about Twitter. It takes time to learn about hashtags, craft witty (or at least interesting) 140 character or less tweets, and managing your time in social media. There are many great resources available for learning about Twitter, and it doesn’t take hours to learn. See 10 Must-Learn Lessons for Twitter Newbies or the Twitter Guidebook on Mashable or 31 Twitter Tips from Forbes or my review of Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time or Twitter Conversation Best Practices for Nonprofits.

Problem #2: Only talking about me, me, me. I see this often with new book authors or business owners joining Twitter. The newbies post every 5 minutes a commercial reminder telling the world to buy, buy, buy their book, offering their services like an ad, or post only notes about donating money to a cause. Also annoying – the people who set up their auto direct message response doing the same thing to anyone who follows.

Problem #3: Not helping anyone else on Twitter. Twitter is a social media platform, and by default, it carries the expectation that you are going to “be social” through your account in some way. If all you ever post is information about you, you aren’t going to make a lot of friends on Twitter. Now, if you are already a famous celebrity, the Twitter world will allow for some narcissism and be a little kinder to you, but for most of us – we have to make friends the old fashioned way. That means re-tweeting others and interacting politely while commenting on discussions. You can also create lists of tweeps you admire (keep them publicly accessible so others know if they are listed). Or thank key partner organizations or persons on Twitter that you interact with. Follow those who follow you, and re-tweet people who say nice things about you. Thank people publicly for re-tweets, favorites, following you, or making nice comments.

Problem #4: Using TrueTwit validation service. If you’ve been on Twitter long enough, you’ve surely gotten an auto-direct message asking you to validate your account if you follow someone. Some people (myself included) have stopped validating these requests because they are annoying and suck time. ManyTwitter accounts are fake and a good spammer could get through TrueTwit validation – so you’re not protecting much by using this service. And if a spammer wants to follow you, so what?

Problem #5: Spamming hashtags that have nothing to do with you, your organization or the topics you tweet about. To identify organizations and people that matter to you, research the hashtags they are consistently using and share your content (when it is relevant to that hashtag) on those hashtags. You would think this would be easy. But for some of us, it’s not. There’s a radio podcast that routinely tweet bombs a hashtag I follow because they are trying to meet a particular niche group  – unfortunately the topics they broadcast about are not really a benefit or of interest to that group much. No one is paying attention, but they continue to tweet bomb the hashtag and get no traction or RTs.

Talk to Us: What strategies help you connect with others on Twitter? What behaviors do you recommend people avoid? Share below! 

Image licensed via Creative Commons.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites. She blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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