Twitter is a perfect democratic forum: If people don’t like what you have to say, they can vote with their fingers. With a quick click, choosing the unfollow or block features, your feed is forever removed from their life. However, for businesses small and large, the goal of Twitter and other social media tools is to build relationships, not tear them down. To master the fine art of friending followers, here are five ways to not be annoying.
- Don’t hide. Include extra contact info in your Twitter bio or background. Sometimes, 140 characters isn’t enough for your audience to say what they want. To encourage further dialog, and limit your customers’ searching frustration, include your website URL, email address, and telephone number (if appropriate) within your Twitter page.
- Don’t ignore. Answer all replies or questions within a reasonable timeframe. If a customer called you up on the phone, it’s unlikely that you’d sit on the call in silence. When you’re participating online, the same rules apply. While it might be time consuming to respond on a regular basis, your social media success depends on your accessibility and ability to engage in conversation. In other words, grab a cup or two of coffee every morning or night, and answer away. Your followers will commend your commitment, and they’ll respect that you’re listening.
- Don’t yell. As much as you want to promote your business, limit direct marketing messages about how great your business is or why someone needs your product now. It’s OK to sell on Twitter, but for some users they prefer a soft sell or a message that has some real value to them (such as a product discount). To get some examples of how businesses effectively use the micro-blogging site, seek out some of the top companies on Twitter, such as @Zappos and @Starbucks, and learn from them.
- Don’t disappear. Consistency is the key to your business’s online marketing success. Just like going to the gym, regular activity leads to results (and the good news is that you don’t have to break a sweat on Twitter, unless you’re tweeting on the treadmill, which I’ve been known to do). There are few things more frustrating than a company that is online for a few days in a row, and then disappears for a few days at a time. Think of Twitter as a series of marathons, not a quick sprint to the finish line.
- Don’t lie.While it might be tempting to write a clever marketing tease that leads to an online promotion, try to be as direct as possible when messaging. For example, if you try to entice people with tweets, such as this link leads to the “the funniest video ever” or the “cheapest product you’ll ever find,” you should be certain that their expectations are met. If you send your followers astray too many times, they will stop believing what you have to say. Since trust is a must-have quality on the web, always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Amber MacArthur is a social media consultant, speaker, and author of Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Build Your Business (June 10, 2010 release).