Sunday, June 21, 2009

When a Tweet Isn't at All Sweet

Integrating social media outreach into public relations strategies is a major part of my business. As such, Twitter is among the tools I routinely recommend, especially to small businesses. Like any medium, Twitter has benefits and drawbacks. And, while I'm confident the former outweigh the latter, I have my moments when Twitter makes me a little loony. 

Here's my highly technical recommendation to those who are starting to use or are considering using, Twitter as part of their business: don't be annoying. 

I speak here to newbies, as I find I am most often asked: "How do I Twitter"? Well, to start, avoid these three major Twitter offenses (and if you disagree, I'd love to hear feedback, as we're all navigating a new s.m. world)...

1) Tweeting for the sake of tweeting. Yes, it is vital to be authentic and genuine, so sharing non-biz related tweets is important. But balance is key. If you're tweeting 12 times a day to update on every errand you ran and chore you did, or if you post 14 random quotes or 32 links to favorite songs--essentially tweeting for the sake of tweeting--I say one thing: Please, stop. You might have 1,000 followers, but there's a chance 800 of them are just too lazy to un-follow you.

2) Saying the same thing over and over and over (and over...). Promoting yourself is great, but find a relevant new way to communicate your message. Link to a news story or blog post, or find others who share or support your mission and give props. Really: if your followers didn't respond the first 400 times you told them the exact same thing, chances are they won't the 401st time, either. 

3) Holding personal conversations in public. @JohnDoe is a great tool to foster a personal connections on Twitter. But once you and John Doe are connected and want to have an extensive conversation, be kind and take it to another place so your followers don't have to scroll and scroll and scroll through your personal communication. 

While Twitter and other social media are new and unknown for many, remember: when you boil these down to their essence, they are simply ways to communicate. That being the case, the same rules of apply here as they do in any form of communication: Don't be pushy, think before you speak, listen carefully and, most of all: be considerate of others. 

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