SOCIAL MEDIA

Biggest Mistake I See on Twitter

There are 3 good reasons not to get this wrong--and an easy way to make it better.
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If you’re just using Twitter to lurk, you can stop reading now: This advice does not pertain to you. But if you intend to use Twitter for any sort of marketing, whether for yourself or your company, then I beg you: Please take a few minutes now to fully complete your Twitter profile.

My fellow Twitter users may disagree with me that this is the No. 1 mistake (there are certainly plenty of others to choose from)–but from my perspective, a profile that is incomplete or lacks a biography is the worst thing a user can do.

Here’s why:

1. 3-Second Impressions

When you’re on Twitter, you need to remember that people might be evaluating you in a vacuum and in nano-seconds–and they may very well be judging you on very little information. Your Twitter handle, location, URL, and your bio information all matter (not to mention the content of your tweets). Yes, people will also judge your photo (“avatar”), but you at least need to have one uploaded–so you won't end up looking like an egg or a Twitter bird.

People evaluate you as someone they ought to follow, communicate with or learn from; or perhaps someone who might have similar interests or be in the vicinity. If you give none of this information, you just look like a newbie (or a bot; more on that in a moment).

2. What Are You Hiding?

Particularly if you’re truly trying to use Twitter for marketing, you should also use your real full name. But even if not: If you give partial information, you come across as someone who’s trying to hide something or isn't really Twitter savvy.

Moreover, any information you leave out of your Twitter profile just makes it harder for you to be found by search engines like Twitter Search and Google. Useful tools like Follower Wonk literally scan and index the content in your Twitter bio, which can help you be found by people searching for certain criteria.

The same goes for your location or URL. Your location doesn’t have to be a specific town–it’s a text field, so you can put in whatever you want. (My company is physically based in a Baltimore suburb, but my business community is in the city, so I’ve indicated my location as “Greater Baltimore region.”)

When it comes to URL: If you don’t have a company website to point people to (or have reasons not to link there), consider entering your LinkedIn profile, public Facebook account, or a blog URL.  At least give people a way to connect, communicate with, and learn more about you in more than 140 characters at a time.

3. Looking Like a Bot

Back to "bots": These are accounts managed through automated software. Some bots are relatively benign, intended to do nothing more than aggregate or push out information. You can easily recognize these kinds of bots.

Other bots, though, can appear to be human beings–some even have profiles and tweet streams mimicking engagement–and may be used either to deliver spamware links or to attract followers that can then be harvested and sold off to people who want to artificially inflate their follower counts. If you see an incomplete profile that only has an avatar, thousands of one-sided tweets and very low followers/following numbers, chances are you’re looking at a bad bot. Is that what  you want to be mistaken for?

Reminder: Complete Profiles Are Easy

Completing a Twitter profile only requires about two minutes of time, though, so I don't understand why more people don't do so.  Inside the Twitter interface, navigate to Settings using the head icon in the upper right, then locate the profile link in the left navigation. Once you’re in your Profile, you can add/edit your head shot, your location, your URL, and your bio.  Remember, you get an extra 20 characters for your bio (160 total)–so feel free to use them!

Since I tinker with my bio from time to time, here’s a trick I’ve also been using:  Save older bios in a text file or Word document in case you ever want to retrieve/re-use them–this way you won’t have to try to recall how witty you once were.

Take a look at your Twitter profile, and ask yourself: Is this as good a marketing tool as it could be for me or my organization?  If the answer is no, it's time for a revamp. Now.

Last updated: Mar 16, 2012

HOLLIS THOMASES | Columnist | President & CEO, Web Ad.vantage

Client advocate, digital strategist, and thought leader Hollis Thomases, founder of Web Ad.vantage, helps companies navigate the complexity of the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and develop digital strategies.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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