Five Lessons on How Not to Use Twitter

By March 31, 2011Communications

I was absolutely stunned when, during a workshop I was teaching, I learned that a business owner had instructed staff managing the company’s Twitter account, to block anyone who wanted to follow the business on Twitter if they seemed irrelevant.


I know that the business community is still trying to wrap its mind around Twitter and how it can be used in a business context. Above all, what I want to share is this: Twitter is a microblog — updates are like tiny blog posts of 140 characters or less. If that helps make sense of Twitter to your and your business then good; you understand that a blog is published for anyone to see and find via search engines and the idea of publishing in this way (0r on any social network) is to attract people who find you and your content of value.

As a short and sweet guide to what NOT to do on Twitter, I offer you the following five thoughts:

  1. Don’t block people following you unless they are obnoxious spammers (in which case, block away)
  2. Don’t sell, sell, sell, instead, take the time to engage in conversation with those who follow you and those you follow
  3. Don’t regurgitate endlessly; there’s a trend among some Twitter users to tweet quotes from others — ad nauseum! I don’t care if Oprah, the Dalai Lama or Jesus said it; I don’t want to read a stream of tweets that’s mostly “quotables.” That’s just boring.
  4. Don’t — for the love of all that is good and holy — use AutoDM’s, as my aunt would say, like they’re going out of style. There’s a time and place for auto response and this isn’t it.
  5. While it’s important to stay on message — and I fully support that if you’re tweeting on behalf of a business you need to make sure what you are publishing there is relevant — but for goodness’ sakes, pay attention to what’s being said in the stream of those you’re following and join the conversation. Don’t just push out your content — engage.

In case all of this still leaves you scratching your head in wonder, one last reminder: you’re there to discover and build relationships, not merely crank out content. Honor that.