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Should you really be using Twitter if you don't understand it?

Twitter_Bird.jpgThe other day I was online grabbing a link for a blog I was writing so I could hyperlink to the business I was referring to. I often do this, as back links are great for SEO, and you never know when someone will reciprocate. But to my surprise, when I landed on the company’s home page I was shocked to not only see profanity, but profanity aimed at them, via their own Twitter, at the top of their own website!


How did they make this error?

I see mistakes online, but this was a new one to me. I can see how easily it happened though. I work with quite a few clients on their websites - and in particular the copy and layout. One of my bugbears is badly-used Twitter feed plug-ins, and there's a very good reason why. Many of the clients I come into contact with not only fail to understand Twitter, but some don't use it at all!

Why on earth would you promote the fact that you're rubbish at Twitter, on your own website, when it's seen as such an integral part of any company’s marketing activity? You can adjust these plug-ins, so if you're going to have one then please, please bear these points in mind:

  • Set the tweets displayed to your tweets only, not replies. (A good Twitter feed will be conversational. Your last 3-5 tweets could well be replies, but may not represent your company in the way you'd wish. 
  • Although having a Twitter plug-in on your home page can help your SEO, remember that Twitter isn't always taken in the right way. People visiting your site will see your last 3-5 tweets. Are your last five tweets right now suitable for your website? Are you sure? 
  • Retweets ARE tweets. When you RT someone's tweet it then becomes your tweet (this includes photos on your profile page by the way) so be cautious what you RT.

WTU_Avatar_copy.jpgThe last point is key. When I was grabbing that hyperlink I was faced with two four-letter words aimed AT the business whose website I was on. Someone had obviously got annoyed with the business, and had decided to mention them on Twitter to tell all their own followers why they didn't want to use them.

If that’s going to happen, the best thing for the business to do would have been to respond positively and try to help or advise - this can be very powerful on Twitter. What you don't want to do is RETWEET IT! 

I don't think this was meant to happen, and I'm sure the tweeter was blissfully unaware they had... But, it does mean two very important things:

  • They read it. Otherwise how would it have been retweeted by accident?
  • They didn't respond. I checked and they failed to offer any advice or address the bad PR.
  • The tweet was SIX DAYS OLD and clearly shows they were going back over old mentions.
  • By retweeting, it put the profanity and negative comments right up on their website for all to see! #Fail.

Now being the model Warwickshire tweeter that I am, I tweeted them to let them know.

They surely didn't mean to retweet it, and they surely didn't realise that it would appear on their home page. There's no way someone’s 'mention' about them would have got up there automatically because usually the Twitter feed plug-ins only show outbound tweets from the account. 

So what should you do? How can you, as a business, avoid this catastrophe on the home page of your website?

Understanding Twitter before you promote it is important.email_WTUlogo.jpg

  • Twitter is a great way to build brand awareness and relationships.
  • Twitter is also the perfect way to show how out of touch or unprofessional you are with modern communication. (Are your emails and newsletters like this?)
  • Twitter is NOT a sales tool. Your tweets should be conversational - are these right for your website though?
  • Twitter is an open page for people to write on, friend or foe. Are you ready and able to respond quickly and positively?

There are many reasons why you SHOULD be on Twitter, but did you stop and think about the reasons you SHOULDN'T?

Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

Just because you're good at serving food doesn't mean you're good at communicating on social media.

I'll leave you with this thought…

When you mention someone on Twitter, his or her followers don't see it. When they mention you, your followers don't see it. When you reply to a tweet, not all of your followers see it. Clear? No I didn't think so...

We explain why in our regular Twitter Schools.

We're here for help and advice on Twitter for business, and we can even look after your account if you don’t have time. Don't leave it to the office junior or you could end up with egg on your home page.



My name is Graham Todd and I’ve been immersed in social media for almost three years. I train, blog and manage social media for business.

Find me on Google+

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