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#1 @ Mentions to your Followers.

This is a common mistake on Twitter, and an easy one to fall into.

‘@’ mentions can be used in two ways:

  • Use an @ in the beginning of your message as a direct reply or tweet to an individual. Note: the only people that will see this tweet will only be seen by your followers that follow the recipient too (ie. both parties).  For Example:
Twitter design
  • If you use an @ midway through your message, or use a  ‘.’ as the first character of the tweet, that tweet and mention will be seen by ALL of your followers. This is  a great way of promoting a partnership or positive comments about a person/business.twitter explained

#2 Don’t Hijack Sensitive Hashtags

It sounds pretty obvious, but even the big brands have been known to get this one wrong. Trying to spin your own business into a serious or sensitive news issue/hashtag can have some pretty terrible consequences.

Designer Kenneth Cole made the news with the following tweet, trying to inject his brand into a conversation about the Egyptian pretests in 2011:

twitter for businessTwitter have an official stance on ‘Hashtag-Hijacking’, and could cost you more than a bout of bad PR.

Remember, only use hashtags or conversation appropriate for you and your business.

#3 Think your Hashtag Through Thoroughly

When it comes to using hashtags, remember that it doesn’t always go as you had first planned. McDonald’s famously created the #McDStories hashtag campaign, envisaging users sharing fun stories and experiences at McDonald’s. Unfortunately, users had other plans – and what the food giant didn’t plan for were the thousands of tweets sharing negative stories and experiences about them.

Of course, this sort of backlash would (hopefully) not apply to you or your business – a fast food chain with a background of controversey and negativity probably should have thought it through a little better. But the thing to take away from their twitter fail is to remember that for every positive person out there, there equally could be a few negatives too. Be careful about what you say and how it will be interpreted by the masses. Which leads us nicely to…

#4 Be Careful with Sentiments

“Love” in any sense, is a strong word to use in a situation, so if you plan to put it in the mouths of your followers, make sure they really do love you! Sentiments such as ‘love’ can backfire, and almost come across as brand arrogance – not a great look online!

A lot of big brands and politicians have fallen into this trap, and can be incredibly awkward when it goes wrong. Mitt Romney‘s PR/social team encouraged their followers to wish him a Happy Birthday, but after a rather deafening silence online, the hashtag became a bit of a running joke, more laughing at the politician than with him. Not quite the desired affect…

#5 Don’t Ignore Negative Talk – Address it.

in the real world, problems and bad PR don’t go away by just ignoring them, and Twitter is no different. Last year, Amber Karnes tweeted a blog post that accused Urban Outfitters of stealing designs from artists without giving any credit.

Twitter became awash with tweets and negative words about the brand, and they responded with a single tweet saying: “Hey guys, we see your tweets regarding the I Heart Destination necklace. Please know that our accessories buying team is looking into this.”

Considering the size of the issue, it wasn’t anywhere near enough to address it, and in the next three hours they lost 17,000 followers and both #urbanoutfitters and ‘#theives were trending.

If your customers or followers have a problem, make sure you take good time in speaking to them and fixing the problem at hand. As Urban Outfitters demonstrated, neglecting it can cause irreparable damage to your brand.

#6 Avoid Controversial PR Stunts.

When it works well, Twitter is a force to be reckoned with, and with the right approach, you can promote your services and products with the utmost gain to your business. Asking for RTs (retweets) or running follower count competitions isn’t unheard of, but can go drastically wrong when used incorrectly.

Bing caused an online uproar with a campaign offering to raise money for earthquake victims in Japan, which heavily backfired. twitter hashtagsWith a perception of exploitive marketing, the campaign was vilified by the twitter community, with Bing later apologising and donating the full amount anyway.

Ensure your brand stays ethical online, and take the right steps to do the right thing.

#7 Manage Your Accounts with the Utmost Care!

With small/medium businesses, it is easy for the social media lines of work and play to be blurred somewhat. However, when posted to your accounts, make sure you post to the right places!

There have been countless catastrophes with big brands where employees have sent to the wrong social platform, causing offence and outrage to those on the receiving end.

Car company Chrysler’s official Twitter account made the big mistake of dropping the ‘f’ bomb in a tweet, when an employee who had just suffered a difficult morning commute tweeted from the wrong account.

If you are worried about the odd slip of the thumb when you hit send, use the safety net of different social media platforms for each account (Hootsuite for work, Tweetdeck for personal) etc.

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