Do you know someone making a fool of themselves on Twitter?

Twitter can be confusing if you haven’t read much about how to use it or had the help of a friend.

In my experience, there are three main kinds of Twitter fools:

  1. Never learned the Twitter basics.
  2. Doesn’t try to be a real person on Twitter.
  3. Is always using tricks to promote themseves.

Each fool makes 5 different kinds of mistakes:

Fool #1: “I Didn’t Learn Twitter Basics.”

Pleading ignorance about how to use Twitter can only last so long.

At some point, you have to do some reading or get some help. The first thing to learn is: read Twitter “how-to” articles and tweet questions that you have about Twitter.

Here are five basic Twitter mistakes no one needs to make:

1. Accidentally Hiding Tweets You Meant To Make Public

If the very first part of your tweet is a username (e.g. “@User Great article you wrote…”) your followers will NOT see it in their timeline unless they follow the  person you are tweeting to.

Twitter hides conversation tweets from people that don’t follow you both.

Did you mean your tweet to be a public compliment? Then don’t hide it: put something else at the beginning of your tweet.

For example, changing “@user You are great!” to either of these tweets will work to make your tweet seen by everyone:

  1.  .@user You are great!
  2. You are great, @user !

2. Not Using Twitter tools

No matter what the work, you need basic tools to accomplish the job.

Some things about Twitter can be made really, really easy for you if you use the right tools.

For example, add the Buffer button to your browser and with just a click it will send a tweet about any website you’re visiting at a time your followers are most likely to see it.

And don’t use only Twitter.com. To making Twitter management easy and powerful, check out awesome dashboards like MarketMeSuite and Twimbow.

Finally, check out simple tools like WhoTweetedMe to see deeper into what happens to your tweets and popular topics.

3. Making Your Tweets Hard To Retweet

Many people like adding comments to their retweets. But if your tweet is too long, there isn’t room for their comment. And if it’s really too long, there won’t even be room to credit you as the person they found the tweet from.

Keep your tweets less than 120 characters to make your tweets easier to retweet.

4. Sending Tweets Only You Understand

Explain what you’re linking to. Explain what you’re talking about. When saying something that you could add a link to that would help explain it, add the link.

If your tweets are easy to understand, you’ll get more interaction and retweets—you’ll become more popular, which is the beginning of getting more followers too.

5. Never Making A Twitter List

Lists help you see certain tweets separate from your main stream, even allowing you to see tweets from people you don’t follow.

They also act like a public recommendation of the people you put on the lists. Many services determine influence in part based on what lists you’ve been added to.

Every Twitter user should make at least three lists:

  1. Your closest friends (can make this private).
  2. People you recommend that others follow or people in your key interest area. Tweet about this so others can benefit.
  3. People who write tweets you love to read (often humorous).

Fool #2: “I’m Not Real.”

If you talk to someone who doesn’t respond, how does that make you feel? You need to connect with people on Twitter.

You can visualize Twitter like a “social bank account.” There won’t be anything to withdraw if you never make deposits. Simply by connecting with people through your tweets you are building a community of folks.

Here are five kinds of mistakes no one should ever make:

1. Being Unhelpful

Find people that need help, and help them. Never pass up the chance to help someone on Twitter!

It builds up your social bank account and turns your followers into a real community, and you into a community leader.

2. Forgetting to Reply

Respond to people that get in touch. Comment on tweets you find interesting. Don’t fall into the trap of constantly focusing on just pushing out information. Take time to read, listen and respond.

3. Not Getting Involved With Questions

Get to know your followers. Show that you’re interested in what they have to say.

One way of doing this is by asking questions. You can even try polling your followers and asking their opinions.

Even better is answering questions. You can use the new Twitter.com search function to search for questions the people you follow are asking.

4. Rarely Retweeting

Especially if you are engaging with someone, take a moment to do a search of their tweets, or simply look at what they’ve said lately. Retweet anything you find interesting.

Treat your twitter followers as if they are your friends and they will be.

5. Not Engaging With People That Follow You.

You need to budget time to do more than just figure out who to follow back of the people that follow you.

If they seem interesting, click through to their website if they offer a link in the bio. Comment on or retweet something they’ve tweeted.

If you don’t do it when they follow you, when will you do it?  Get the relationship started right!

Fool #3: “I Use Tricks To Promote Myself.”

There are lots of Twitter tools that will automate promoting your business for you. But many of them are a bad idea, and others have to be used carefully, if at all.

Here is a look at five things you should avoid:

1. Auto-DMs

Automatically sending a “canned” direct message to anyone that follows you is a sure way to get people to unfollow you quickly.

The problem is that it’s way, way, WAY overdone by people saying things like:

  1. Thanks for following me
  2. Here’s your gift for following me
  3. Help promote this cause
  4. Click here for discounts on our product
  5. Etc.

Also, many DMs are from hijacked accounts, and the link will take you to a website that will attempt to steal your password. So sending people that don’t know you DMs with links can be a really bad idea.

If you were the ONLY person on Twitter sending automated DMs, it would still be annoying to some people, but it would probably make you stand out.

But since tons of people are doing it, it’s just a bunch of spammy noise, so don’t do it!

2. Auto-tweeting About Your Post 10 Times

It will work, then it will fail, then you will lose followers. If you spread out your repeats very carefully over a long period of time, it works better.

But what works best is to engage with influential users, because over time they will be retweeting your posts, and you will reach more people that way.

Much more effective.

3. Lots of Blatant Self-Promotion

As the Toby Keith song says “Take a break from yourself.”

It’s often recommended that you tweet at least 20-30 useful things for every one thing you tweet about your business.

4. Link pushing tricks

If you see someone say “I’m thinking about getting a new car one of these days” and you reply to that tweet “@User Big Sale in our Car Lot this weekend!” you’re making a mistake.

If you want to engage, ask questions and offer helpful links. Don’t sell.

Once you have made connections, you may find the right opportunity to talk about your business, but not before.

And if you often tweet a link to a current news story, but the link takes people to a promotion about your product, you will be reported as a spammer and your Twitter account will likely end up being suspended

5. Trying To Get Followers By Participating In Trending Topics

It’s fine to get involved with a trending topic if it’s relevant to you, or you’re just looking for something fun to do.

But don’t participate over and over thinking you are showing off your wit and charm to tons of potential new followers. You are just annoying the people that do follow you, and will lose followers.

And it’s an especially bad idea to tweet something about your business and add in a trending topic hashtag.

Summary

Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Do you disagree with any of these points? Have a story about how you were once a Twitter fool but found your way?

If so, leave a comment in the box below!

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Written by Dave Larson

Helping everyone get the most out of Twitter and social media.

  • Mamashag

    Thank you–I read articles of this type all the time just to remind me how to be a better Twitter community member. It’s like continuing education.

    • I do too! Reading a lot also helps me find the right articles to share with new(er) folks who are looking for a reference or resource

  • A lot of the above is plain common sense & good ol’ fashion courtsey.
    I have come across one user in particular who is such a hard sell I hard to stop following, he reciprocated & I didn’t think any more of it. Now he’s seen how my followers have grown (sometimes picking up 20+ in a day) & he’s following again and why?
    Because I was already doing most of the above.

    • You’re sure leading by example. Nice work!

  • Margo DeGange

    Wonderful suggestions. Thanks for taking the time to write these thoughts down. I think we have to come as givers so we can engage, connect, and make friends.  The slimey stuff just does not go over at this party!

    Thanks again for sharing. Great tips!

    Margo DeGange

  • Stephanie

    It’s good to see this sort of post when I really am fairly new to Twitter!  Some of the technicalities are news to me and I’m learning all the time.  I don’t think I’ve done anything too dire though.

  • Good article content.  At certain point, we all have made at least one or two of those mistakes.

  • Good article. Some things to keep in mind for everyone. me included

  • Hi all! I just started using Buffer!

  • I should’ve read and  learned this the first time i started posting on twitter.

  • Really fabulous content. Thank you for consistently reinforcing great Twitter habits and teaching skills to those willing to read. Buffer is a really helpful tool which I use.

  • @Buffer is one of the most useful accounts I follow!  Good stuff.

  • Ak Simmonds

    I really needed to read this earlier – sorry people but yes I was one of these annoying people! Only by tweeting each day with comments and links back to our website.  I thought that’s what twitter was about and just got stuck into it before learning.  Busy Mum with 2 businesses.  Have stopped doing that which feels good and enjoy being me and socializing on twitter, worried now that I have annoyed many of my followers!  Thanks Buffer!!

  • Through the most recent change of klout’s algorithms, klout strongly valued all kinds of spam bots and had to notice a strong decline of views on alexa!

  • Kenneth A.

    This is very helpful information.  I know I have been guilty of a few of these, but by reading and paying attention to users that consistently produce great content and attract a solid following, I grow a step closer each day to using Twitter effectively for my business.

  • lol yes, im guilty of one or two of those things. but this article offered some great alternatives to helping promo 

  • Adrian Jackson

    I am a new Twitter user, so I’m glad for the advice. Thanks! You’ve saved me about six months of slogging through!