5 ways you’re doing Twitter marketing wrong

The biggest mistake brands make when it comes to marketing on Twitter, is thinking Twitter is a social media platform. To be fair to them, Twitter itself thinks it’s a social media platform, or claimed to be one in order to justify their fundraising and their huge stock market valuation. But things aren’t really going so well for Twitter, in between the failed buyouts, musical chairs of executive staff, stagnant growth, closure of Vine, failure to add any new features anyone really wants and especially the uproar when they proposed changing the timeline feed to one that wasn’t a timeline.

Maybe if Twitter’s executives were honest about what Twitter is and focussed on that instead they wouldn’t be in so much trouble.

The problem is that Twitter is actually a news medium, one where users carefully fine tune (or “curate”, now there’s another yucky bullshit word) exactly what news they want to get. It’s no wonder users got shirty when Twitter tried to start filtering and prioritising items in a user’s feed. Remember Google Reader and Feedburner? The reason they don’t exist any more is Twitter is better at that than RSS and so on.

The backchannel of Twitter is not a peer to peer social one, when users are talking back at brands it’s either white noise – trolling and abuse – or justifiable complaints that need to be serviced.

When a brand tasks their social media marketing or digital marketing agency with managing their Twitter presence, they’ve already failed because they are not understanding that Twitter is not a poor man’s Facebook or a blind man’s Instagram. But you can easily tell a brand that doesn’t get it, when they, or their dimwitted agency, do these things:

1. Ads for the wrong country – if you’re going to pay for a promoted post, at least make sure they’re targeted to the right country or countries you operate in! Check out this example from Dairy Queen, paying for their ads to appear in the UK for some reason, where they do not have any business.

This is WASTE. You may as well withdraw $100,000 from the bank and set fire to it. Someone needs to get fired this seriously, but it happens ALL THE TIME. And remember, on Twitter, people can reply to ads. Which makes posting ads on Twitter maybe not a great idea at all, frankly.

2. Thinking Twitter is for social media, rather than for news and (for brands) for providing customer services. You should be posting your news on Twitter, and ReTweeting relevant news, from your industry, from your business partners, but also you should be providing customer services and responding to questions, feedback and yes, complaints, on your Twitter. If logistically this is not possible, then at least set up a second customer services account and have that account monitor and reply to queries sent to the primary account. The worst thing you can is ignore customers trying to communicate with you there, as that will only infuriate them or drive them to your competitors who ARE there – and based on personal experience those competitors will be looking at your complaints and ready to step in offering an alternative if you don’t deal with them. If you use Twitter you do have to recognise that it’s a two way channel, even if that means you will get a lot of noise to sift through. That also means, don’t lie in your posts, as you’ll immediately get called out on it, like Sony’s recent claims to take good low light pictures, something all their reviews rated them very poorly on

3. Not understanding how to reply or DM (Direct Messaging – private messages) customers. Agencies managing brand Twitter feeds seem to be entirely inept at (a) making sure they follow people they ask to DM them (you can’t DM someone unless they follow you), (b) asking for personal details without asking them to be sent by DM, which customers should not have to do as it could breach their privacy, and (c) misspelling the customer’s name, forgetting to put a space between their username and the reply, or mistyping the @ reply part either starting from the wrong place (the message will only not appear on your primary feed if the @ sign is the very first character) such that your grovelling apology or arrogant denial to the customer is immediately shown to all your followers.
Sony are also always doing this, clearly an idiot runs their feed!

4. Syndicating your Facebook or Instagram posts, or posts from other networks, automatically to Twitter using the account linking functions. All other networks allow much longer posts, and show any attached photos or link previews. But because Twitter and Facebook consider themselves in competition, Facebook and Instagram’s attachments are not syndicated when you share, as they want you to click the link taking you back into their ecosystem. By the time the message is truncated to include a link and hashtags, it’s unreadable on Twitter, with no link preview shown either. Many users are on Twitter precisely as an alternative to Facebook, so if you make them click your link, they’re not going to see your content they’re going to be funnelled into a Facebook sign up process. And if they try to reply to your message on Twitter, most of the time you’re ignoring them because you’re assuming all your customer dialog is only happening on Facebook.

5. Adding Twitter feeds to your brand website, without filtering out the messages that are replies (which are mostly replies to complaints), so of course you end up with the brand’s own website being covered in messages like “@sally4529 We’re really sorry that we poisoned your child” and “@SouljaFan82 We’ll let you know if your relatives survived the plane crash as soon as possible” much as above when replies are not done properly on Twitter itself. This is easily fixed, when you embed a Twitter widget showing your feed you can specify whether all posts or just posts excluding replies are shown, as long as the people writing your replies are ensuring the @ sign is the very first letter in the tweet. Britain’s awful Beefeater restaurants had this problem on their website for a long time – which considering the huge volume of complaints they get was highly embarrassing!