The 7 Most Common Twitter Mistakes

1. Endless self-promotion

“But isn’t that why I got a twitter in the first place?” you might be wondering. “Isn’t self-promo a necessity for authors on social media?” Absolutely, but overdoing it is the #1 Twitter mistake for authors. It’s incredibly important to make self-promo a secondary part of your twitter account. A good rule of thumb is keeping your promo-to-personal ratio 1:10. Only 10% of tweets should be promotional in nature, and the rest should be interesting links, pictures, personal updates, and/or signal boosts for other people’s work.

2. Beginning a tweet with a handle

If I say “@AlisonTyler is the coolest author ever,” that tweet will only show up on the streams of Alison Tyler and anyone who happens to be following BOTH Alison and me. This vastly limits the number of people who will see the tweet, which sort of defeats the purpose of a public tweet. Please note that beginning a tweet with a handle is still appropriate when replying to a person or their tweet, or if your tweet is mainly intended for that person and their followers.

3. Overuse of the #hashtag

If half of your tweet is comprised of hashtags, you might want to reconsider your strategy. “#Awesome #cool #funny #lol” are not actually adding anything of value to the conversation, and are probably not placing your tweets in categories that people check. Don’t get me wrong—sometimes it’s hilarious to have a hashtag that’s clearly tongue in cheek, but they should still be used sparingly. Think of them as the of the hot sauce of the social media world. Just a dash (or a hash, as it were) will do.

4. “Check out this awesome thing”

If you can possibly avoid it, never, ever use this phrase. “Check out this …” is quite possibly the most overused phrase in the history of social media. Try eliminating this phrase from your social vocabulary, and come up with new ways to point users to your interesting links/pictures/content. Ex: instead of “Check out this exclusive excerpt from my novel!” try “Make Monday a little more romantic with this free excerpt from my novel!”

5. “Please RT”

The same goes for “Please follow.”It just makes you sound a little desperate. You’d hardly say “please be friends with me” in real life, would you? And hey, if you would, go ahead and do it on twitter, too, but I’d suggest something a bit more subtle for the rest of us. The key to getting more retweets (RT’s) and followers is having interesting content and a unique voice, not asking for them loudly and often.

6. Auto DM’s

Nine times out of ten, an auto DM (direct message) is a bad idea. Countless twitter accounts have auto DM’s set to send to every new follower. A canned message is, of necessity, generic and impersonal, the precise opposite of the tone most authors would like to create on their social media. Instead, if you want to make followers feel welcome, send a tweet thanking them for the follow, and telling them what you’re interested in about them.

7. Not spacing out tweets

Use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer (free) to space out your tweets over hours, days, and even months. You can even tweet the same link as many times as you like, if you change up the wording, to hit different time zones and users.

Want the latest tips and tricks on social media delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free Giving Books a Voice newsletter.