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25 September 2009

A Twitter Misstep

You know those messages on Twitter that promise to get you 50-100 followers per day. Most of us have been ignoring them since we signed up realizing that the quality of the follower is far more appealing than the quantity. But recently I received one message that for some unknown reason peaked my interest so I clicked on it to see what it was all about.

At the onset, and in my defense, I would like the record to show that I was tired and had likely spent too many hours working that day. This stands as my excuse for the poor judgment that followed. The site made some interesting claims about finding followers that matched my profile. All I had to do, it said was enter my account info and a complete report would be provided.

A report–sounded interesting and I wondered who might be on that list. So I entered my account info, pressed enter and immediately after the form went through, the voice of reason inside my head began to nervously whisper its concern.

Next thing I know I (the site I had been on) sent Tweets on my behalf that said that I recommend their site to find 100’s of followers per day. Wait, wait, wait– I didn’t, that’s not what I wanted, I was just curious. I just wanted the report!

I immediately deleted the first Tweet. Breathed a sigh of relief and thought okay, well at least I’m the only one that knows I did that. But before I could catch my breath, Tweetdeck lit up like a Christmas tree with mentions and DM’s regarding the follow me Tweet.

There I was, sitting in my living room, innocently working away and the next thing I know I’ve made a major Twitter misstep and I now have to explain in 140 characters my honest intentions and how they have gone completely sideways.

Building a random collection of followers using services like this is not a sound Twitter strategy for anyone whether an individual or company. Twitters ultimate benefit is made through the personal connections you create with followers based on commonality– which is what drew me to learn more about the service that site promised.  And like any relationship there needs to be value for both parties in the connection.

It’s as easy to misstep on social media as it is in real life. But sometimes, with social media, these missteps can be far reaching and take considerable time to correct. The best course of action here is to fess up, admit the mistake and warn others. So, in the spirit of good Twitter etiquette, here are 3 other Twitter missteps to avoid:

  1. When posting random thoughts such as “I’m so happy today” or “Getting coffee now” consider embellishing those sentiments or activities with the reason why you are happy, or where you are having coffee so that your post provides followers some added benefit or value. When you post something, ask yourself, would I leave this post on a friends’ voice mail? If not, then it’s probably not worth posting on Twitter.
  2. Don’t post if you don’t have anything of value to say. If you feel the need to Tweet, consider retweeting someone else’s post. This action is always viewed kindly by others. Building influence on Twitter is not accomplished by the quantity of your posts but by the quality.
  3. When posting, keep your brand values close by and measure your post against those very things you stand for. This will help prevent you from posting things that you might regret or that could harm your reputation. What you post can and will be seen by the masses. People do actually see and retain what you Tweet.

There are so many best practices regarding Twitter that briefing yourself on what they are will help you make better use of the platform. The bottom line is Twitter is not a toy. It’s a very serious and powerful marketing and communication tool. Whether you are savvy on Twitter or new to it, one mistake can lead to a great deal of time spent cleaning it up.

10 thoughts on “A Twitter Misstep

  1. Here is another misstep that is common. The key to effectively using twitter is to comprehend it is a conversation between people. It's sharing a thought or an idea and valuable information. Too many people are using at as a sales platform with blatant hard sell techniques. I'm not saying you shouldn't use twitter to sell, but you have to do it the right way. You just can't use twitter to send out a bunch of links for something you're trying to sell. Send out valuable information and build yourself a reputation.

  2. You are very brave to put your personal experience out there and use it to teach others. I think we can all relate. I sent a DM awhile back only to find it didn't DM but went in to the public stream…a hazard of replying to quickly to an MMS notication! Luckily it was pretty benign and no harm was done, but I am much more careful now!

  3. Wendy – It wasn't a misstep as much as it was a learning experience – We know that friends don't let friends drink and twitter – now we know that friends should not let friends who are tired twitter 🙂

    Lisa: We've all had those DM fails from our phone – we can only hope someone else has one more recently so ours will be forgotten 🙂 And By the way, Wendy is not only brave but also a high energy dancer #justsaying

  4. The worst step I have made is switching my work and personal accounts once to make a tweet. The tweet was just supposed to be to my close friends that follow me, to complain about something loudly. Unfortunately it popped up on my work account and I had to delete it as fast as I could. I dont know how many people saw it in the two minutes or less that it took me to get it off of there.

    -Tyler

    1. @portlandrealestate I have a lot of admiration for those of you that manage multiple accounts. I can see how you could easily make that mistake. At least it was a "misstep," I've seen some Tweets that should have been keep private. 😉

  5. I remember this day Wendy, we even exchanged a couple of tweets about it. Nothing wrong, at all, with being curious — that's how we learn. Those that know you would clearly understand that you meant no ill-will and that you are certainly not a twitter spammer. So I think you're being a little too hard on yourself.

    Kudos for telling the story and turning it into a valuable lesson for others. I tell people all the time, if someone or some site is asking for your password, think long and hard about the potential ramifications. It amazes me how many people, VERY bright people, so easily submit their passwords to other sites. I guard my social media passwords like I guard my SSN. I'm sure that sounds silly to some, but think about how quickly ones "social media reputation" could be compromised by some malicious person.

    Fortunately, this time you just fell victim to a spammer. They weren't intent on damaging you , just in pimping their silly system. What bothers me the most is the someone common perception that follower count is all that matters. It's about the last thing that matters, yet some very big names in the social media space still make it out to be a big deal.

    1. @PhxREguy Yes, I remember you sending me a Tweet right away that night. Someone else even sent me a DM asking if my account had been hacked. Great advice on guarding those social media passwords. In the wrong hands someone could do a lot of damage to your business and reputation. As we all continue to explore social media there will be many lessons to learn and share along the way.

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