Do You Tweet Like a Spammer? Social Media Mistakes You Should Never Make on Twitter
I’ve been on Twitter for a good long while, four (internet) years. In that time I’ve seen well-intentioned habits turn into big mistakes. They begin innocently enough, common courtesies, but Twitter’s not a small community any more. Now that Twitter is all grown up it’s time for everyone behave like adults.
I’ve also seen self-styled social media gurus suggest to their clients and followers that they should engage in these behaviors to increase traffic to their web sites, but all they’re doing is helping people to spam more often and more effectively. You don’t really want to be seen as a spammer, do you?
1. Automatically Following Back
During Twitter’s infancy (more than four years ago), it was customary for everyone to follow back every new follower. I don’t know why so many social media tools allow and even encourage this behavior, but it really does not do you any good. Follow people back based on criteria that help you build your business, not just your following.
The jury is out on what the ideal follower:following ratio is. Bona fide web mavens seem to all be below 50%, some as low as 10%. It is difficult for me to imagine that engagement is possible below 10%, but I certainly could be wrong. Regardless of your ratio, automatically following back just doesn’t make much sense.
2. Direct Message Auto-Responders
We have all seen these DMs come in: “Thanks for following me, @NewTwitterFriend! Visit my site to like my Facebook Page, download my latest single: http:TotalSpam.com.” In the early days having @Thubten in a DM indicated that it was a personal note that someone actually typed, and so I replied. Once scripting became available, discerning the origin of a DM became more difficult. I now assume that a DM is automated unless it is VERY obvious that it’s not.
Social media is about being people, people with something to share, people who are eager to listen. Automatic communication is a very bad idea, and really isn’t communication at all. At best it’s broadcasting. There is no good reason for a real person who wants to connect with real people, to automate direct messages.
3. Quoting Inspiring People
If all you are posting is inspirational quotes, that’s spam, really. No matter how inspirational they are, they’re not you, and those who are following your Twitter account want to hear from you about what’s important to you. There’s certainly nothing wrong with quoting someone or a text that inspires you, once in a while. I quote someone every few days. Just don’t make it ALL that you update about.
This also applies to only posting links. If you’re only posting links to other things, that’s not you.
4. Tweet Bombing
Sending a whole bunch of updates out at once is one sure way to get yourself reported to Twitter. You will also likely get ignored or unfollowed by any real person who’s following you. Why would you send five, ten or more updates at the same time? It’s annoying and makes no sense.
5. Hash Abuse
I’m not talking about hashish here, although some of my Twitter followers are likely 420 friendly. I’m talking about cramming your update full of hashtags, “#”. Hashtags have one purpose and two uses. The purpose of hashtags is to organize updates from many different accounts into one search, which allows for people to follow a conversation, or group of conversations.
This has two purposes: relevant embedded hashtags, group or category end tags. Here are examples of the two. “Does anyone have a #raw #recipe for spaghetti?” This allows for anyone interested in raw food or in recipes to pull this update in a search. And now “Just met Joss Whedon at Booth 42!How cool is that? #Whedon #Firefly #ComiCon”. This use allows for anyone at ComiCon to know where Joss Whedon is. The official New York Comic Con Twitter Hash is #NYCC.
6. Using TruTwit
While using TruTwit may not be what a spammer would do, using it results in an incredible volume of spammy DMs. From what I’ve seen, there really is no value to using TruTwit. It’s essentially an extortion racket, harassing people into paying TruTwit to turn off the flood of DMs. It’s incidious that way, in that once someone pays TruTwit to stop the DMs, all of that person’s new followers will be given the same “offer.”
7. Shouting Out
When you send a shout out to many people on Twitter, it clogs their mentions with your non-engaging, even dis-engaging spam. Do not send content-free updates. Do not re-tweet content-free updates. If you don’t know what a shout out looks like, it might look something like the one I got this morning. @shek_65 sent it at 6:07am via LazyUnfollow IPhone: “Shoutout To My New Followers – @kosis1 @thubten @PeeGeeJayEm @xavierdeja @SportsMemNet”. It was then re-tweeted. No one wants to receive these.
8. Announcing that Someone Unfollowed You
Why on earth would you announce to the world that someone unfollowed you? I unfollow about 300 Twitter accounts per day. That only a few have unfollowing auto announcements is amazing to me, so I shouldn’t complain too loudly. It just doesn’t make sense to announce that you’re so uninteresting, so un/dis-engaging, such a spammer, that you’re being unfollowed.
If you are engaging with quality content and you notice that someone unjustifiably unfollowed you, send a personal @. Ask why you were unfollowed. I get those from time to time, and I almost always will re-follow.
At the end of the day, just don’t spam. That’s all I’m asking.
CEO of WePost Media