I am not the be-all, end-all when it comes to social media. I should have made you sit down before breaking that bit of news, shouldn’t I? Such a shock isn’t good for the heart.
Anyway, while I’m no expert and have only a few hundred followers, Twitter is my favorite form of getting social. Trying to communicate a pithy thought in 140 characters or less is a constant exercise in effective writing, and I love the interactions I have over there.
I’m not here to give a lecture on Twitter etiquette because I am still learning some of that myself. But here are some big sins I try to avoid.
Only tweeting links to blog posts. It’s a rookie mistake. When I see an account that consists entirely of blog posts directly publicized by the blog host, I assume it’s someone kind of new to Twitter. Potential followers want to know who we are, they want to connect. It’s hard to interact with a list of links. Tweet the link for sure, but in between, talk to other people. Find some other folks with similar interests to talk to.
Tweeting almost exclusively from other social media. It is frustrating to follow someone whose tweets consist only of status updates from Facebook that are a few teaser words followed by a Facebook link. If you’re not engaged, it’s okay to leave. When I realized my only Facebook status updates were my tweets, I dumped Facebook. Engage in social media you enjoy. Writers are supposed to build platforms, but it’s not really building much of a community if we aren’t really plugged in there. Doing one site well is better than half-hearted engagement in several.
Oversharing. Followers want the link to that latest post. It’s part of why they follow us in the first place. But check your Publicize settings and be aware of how it is tweeting. It is frustrating to see six identical links within seconds of each other because sharing to one site automatically triggers all of them to tweet. Unsure if followers are getting multiple tweets? Check your “me” feed.
Using Twitter to artificially build a blog following. In recent years, I encountered one blogger whose following soared into the tens of thousands within a year. They were even interviewed and asked how they did it. Of course the answer was “I write well.” But here’s the secret. If a WordPress blog is set to post to Twitter, those followers are counted on the blog as well. So this individual spent weeks and months following everyone they could find. Many of those people followed them back. Then, the blogger in question quietly unfollowed those same tens of thousands of people. At first glance, they appear to be wildly popular. In reality, they’re just kind of sneaky. Illegal, no. Dishonest, you bet.
Using Twitter apps incorrectly. There are several apps out there that let you know who followed and unfollowed. Such information can be valuable in helping direct your content. If you see a sharp increase in followers after a post on women’s rights, for example, you can plan similar posts in the future. If followers suddenly drop off, you know to take a look at what may have turned readers off.
Used incorrectly, these apps can make tweeters look insecure and needy. Unless an unfollower is a close friend, it is inappropriate to contact them to ask them why they left. Not everyone is going to like us. It’s okay. Let it go.
Including the entire world in every conversation. I once followed someone and could not for the life of me figure out why I was seeing their conversations with people I do not follow. The reason? This tweeter was moving the Twitter handle to the end of their tweet so their conversation was visible to all of their followers. This move is the equivalent of talking loudly on a cell phone in the middle of a restaurant. Few of us have business so interesting that everyone wants to be a part of it. Equally sinful is putting a period in front of their handle so it looks like you’re talking just to them, but it still goes to everybody else.
Shameless plagiarism. I was recently followed out of the blue by an account with 90K followers. I read their profile, and they seemed harmless, so I followed them back. Then I noticed their tweets looked familiar. Yesterday, I read a distinctively worded tweet that I had read (and favorited) a year ago by someone completely different. This account was not simply retweeting. They were claiming the material as their own. Listen, if it’s rampant plagiarism and copyright infringement I’m after, I’ll visit Pinterest. Retweet if you love something. Nobody loves a copycat. In fact, not only do I unfollow those, I block them as well. No free material from me!
So now you know what I do not like in Twitter accounts that I follow. How about what I love? I love thought-provoking and entertaining tweeters who at least sometimes engage in interaction with their followers.
What are the biggest Twitter sins in your opinion? What did I miss?
Twitter is my very favorite way to follow blogs. Feel free to leave your handle in the comments!