Tuesday, June 14, 2011

5 Twitter Tactics That No Longer Work (... if they ever worked at all)

Twitter logo initialImage via Wikipedia
I have always been a keen observer of how other people use Twitter.  Over the years, I've seen a number of tactics come and go in terms of how useful and effective they are in engaging with your audience.

I am not so sure if these tactics ever worked or if people even cared IF they worked but I think it's time we moved on from using these 5 tactics on Twitter.

1) Following a bunch of people to get more followers: This is still all the rage with people who are new to Twitter.  It's like that asshole at a bar that hits on a bunch of women thinking that if he is successful only 1% of the time, he just needs to hit on 100 women to take somebody home.  Truth be told, the number of followers you have means absolutely nothing because "following" means nothing compared to engaging.  I love getting followed by Tampa Bay real estate agents or car detailing companies in San Diego because I love watching them leave Twitter a month later when they get nothing out of it.  When it comes to the number of followers, I like to ask companies or brands that talk about number of followers to count how many of their followers are marketing consultants, SEOs or other people hoping to get on their radar for the purpose of selling THEM something.

2) Tweeting or retweeting articles from popular sources: In the beginning, engaging people on Twitter was done fairly easily by finding great content and sharing it.  The problem today is that most of the people you interact with online probably read the same sources you do because you shared them in the past or somebody else shared them.  Most of our RSS feeds have become littered with the same blogs and websites and I love Seth Godin as much as the next person but please, I'm sure we've all seen that post.  I should say that I learned this lesson the hard way.  I spent hours each day finding awesome stuff and sharing it.  When I looked at the analytics, it was the really juicy celeb gossip I was finding that people were clicking on the most.  Go figure...

3) Retweeting EVERYTHING: Slightly different than #2, this one is for the people that always retweet and never bother @replying.  I get it, you talk to people A LOT but so does anyone who understands how Twitter works.  When you retweet everything and never @reply, you sound like my 3 year old niece when she repeats everything I say in order to annoy me.  Or worse, you sound like that kid in grade school that tells everyone in class that your friend peed their pants at recess.

4) Scheduled tweets: I have no proof of this but I know there are a bunch of people who load up huge numbers of scheduled tweets.  I have seen the feature in Hootsuite that lets you populate a spreadsheet with a bunch of tweets and tweet times.  Upload it, hit a button and you're all set.  When I saw that, I felt a cold wind blow over me because it made me think of spray and pray email marketing.  Scheduling tweets can be useful when done sparingly but I can see lots of people are spending an hour every week loading up their tweets for the coming week and it looks like you are mailing it in.

5) Automated tweets: If I wanted my horoscope, I'd read the paper.  This is fairly close to #4 but I am seeing lots of people who seem to be importing feeds to load up their stream with quotes, news and other assorted tidbits of useless content.  I'd also like to say this also includes those people that post to Twitter automatically from Facebook and say they are "on Twitter".  I see the Facebook URL shortener and the #FB or #IN hashtag is a dead giveaway.

6) BONUS: over-hastagging:  Personally, I believe that using hashtags for anything other than events such as conferences is a total waste of time because everyone, including bots and spammers, are starting to love hashtags.  I used to follow certain hashtags because you'd get good info from them but now following hashtags is completely unmanageable and I have to watch search terms. I also see people that have co-opted hastags as a form of language and use 5 or 6 of them in a single tweet.  I can't read that many hashtags and using #superlonghastagslikethisone in most of your tweets doesn't really provide any value to anyone.

Are there any tactics you think need to be retired because they are no longer effective?

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