Twitter and Social Media Mistakes that Drive Everyone Nuts

Posted on 30. Mar, 2011 by in Tech, Web

By: Hillel Fuld

After all this time, some things never change when it comes to the Web and social media. While it has penetrated the corporate world on levels we would never have imagined five years ago, social media is still a buzz word companies and people throw around without really understanding. The errors are on both side of the spectrum and some do not appreciate the power of the social Web while others overplay it.

The following are some common mistakes people are still making when it comes to social media:

-Magic: While I will be the first to talk about the power of a single tweet, people and companies have to realize that social media is not magic. It does not work in an abyss and without investing time, resources, and a whole lot of energy, you are most likely wasting your time.

What most people talk and hear about are the effects of a well built and invested network on sites like Twitter, but what these people do not realize is that such a network took time to build.  You can tweet from now till tomorrow, but if you do not have an audience, you might as well be screaming in an empty room.

-Spam: The following is a scenario that happens at one point or another in almost every company. Someone in the company hears a story about Twitter or another social media platform and decides to give it a shot. They pitch it to the CEO and the company decides to take advantage of this “new thing” called social media. They hire some newbie who has been tweeting for 25 seconds, and tell him he has to meet a sales quota. That person then opens an account on Twitter for the company and begins to spam people on Twitter. “Check out our new <insert any product here>”. “Have you heard about <insert name of company here>, check us out here <insert link to company site>.

What amazes me is that after all this time, people are still sending me such messages daily. It does not work and you are pretty much eliminating any chance of creating a good name for your company on the Web by using these tactics. Will you get a few clicks? Yes. Will it help your company in the long run? Absolutely not.

-Number of Followers: A conversation I had with an acquaintance of mine the other day, made my blood boil. He was showing off to me that he has a certain absurd number of followers on Twitter. I replied that I did not even know he was on  Twitter, to which he responded “I am not”. He apparently used some spammy tool to build up his follower count artificially in order to leverage that number when corresponding with companies.

While this is probably an effective method for getting quality customer service, it is otherwise completely worthless. This is an extreme case, but people talking about their follower count, using it as a sales pitch, and bragging about their followers is something I see almost daily on Twitter and other sites. What these people do not realize is that the number of people that follow them is close to irrelevant. How much they interact with these people, the level of responsiveness, engagement, and dialog that these followers provide, now that is key. There is no direct correlation between the two and I have seen many people on Twitter with tens of followers that have more correspondence with their followers then other people with hundreds of thousands of followers or fans. Numbers do not matter in social media.

-Instant Gratification: This is very much connected to my first point of social media being perceived as some sort of magical solution. There are no instant results on social media. If you are a company looking to leverage the potential power of the social web, you have two real options. You can either hire someone who has spent years building up a quality network that trusts them and is truly interested in what that person has to say. Alternatively, you can hire someone who “gets it” and is willing to spend time building up that network.

Either way, there are no instant results. More importantly, you, as a company or CEO, need to understand that you can expect to see ROI from social media, but not the same kind of ROI you can expect to see from lowering the price of your lemonade in a lemonade stand. It will take time and a lot of it, but when the network you are building is ripe, the results you will see from social media are like nothing you have ever seen before.

-Hype: This is again, a continuation of some of the previous points, or more accurately, a summary. It is no secret that “social media” is a buzz word right now. Throw it out there in a business meeting and you have the other side listening instantly. The thing is, that hype is not worth a thing and it will eventually disappear.

What we will be left with is a whole bunch of tools, probably newer and more advanced than the ones we use today, that when utilized properly, will achieve results we never imagined possible with traditional media. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing and selling the social media hype, it is a lot more challenging to truly take advantage of the tools this new medium provides. So remember to think twice before using phrases like “social media expert” or dismissing traditional forms of marketing without learning how to fully utilize the power of the social Web.

Social media  and the Web in general is always evolving, but as things stand today, there are some serious fundamental mistakes being made both in theory when it comes to how social media is perceived, as well as in practice. Anyone who has ever spent twenty seconds on Twitter has seen examples of all of the above. If you are new to Twitter and social media, or if you want a small refresh about the do’s and don’t’s as well as a highlight of some of the leading tools and strategies, check out this complete guide to Twitter.

There are many other mistakes people make when it comes to social media, but it is important to say that there is no right and wrong way to tweet. There are however, practices that annoy the heck out of people and if you are doing any of those things, then you are doing something wrong.

Have you encountered any other misconceptions or just things that annoyed you on Twitter and social media? Feel free to share them in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter. I am @hilzfuld there, and I am looking forward to meeting you.

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17 Responses to “Twitter and Social Media Mistakes that Drive Everyone Nuts”

  1. Mike Mai

    30. Mar, 2011

    awesome post, i agree with all the points made here.

  2. igster101

    30. Mar, 2011

    2 biggest pet peeves. AutoDm with “thanks for following please check out…”
    and follower #’s/ Who cares. If I weren’t picky Id have thousands of followers by now. Don’t want them if I can’t keep track of/interact with them.

  3. Alicia

    30. Mar, 2011

    Well written. I thoroughly agree the numbe rof followers means, well, squat.

    I do try to promote my ebay business there, but that’s NOT my primary reason for being there.

    i’ve always been a bit of a social butterfly, and never afraid to approach new people. I also feel being personable and interacting with those you follow, and vie versa can help your business, even indirectly. :)

    I just enjoy people. What more can I say :)

    Thank you, for taking the time to read our comments.

    Azleeshy :)

  4. Maia Lagerstedt

    30. Mar, 2011

    The Automatic Unfollow. I think it’s on SocialOomph if you upgrade and I’m sure there are others like it. Honestly, I can’t follow everyone who follows me and I really only want followers who are interested in what I have to say.

  5. Tim Anderson

    30. Mar, 2011

    Awesome post.
    I’m new to twitter…sort of. I’ve had an account for awhile, just never got into since I’m so busy. Just trying to find others who share my passion for web design and development. I’ve found some great connections, and people with good advice and insight. And that is why I will continue to use it now.

  6. Rita DeLongchamp

    30. Mar, 2011

    Very interesting and informative with good links to follow. I am a learner and I am learning a lot. Thanks. I want to follow people I admire and can learn from. As for followers I want those who may find my info helpful and/or interesting. Thanks for sharing all this info.

  7. Marianne Worley

    30. Mar, 2011

    Another newbie here who wants to learn and appreciates good advice. I really like what you said about companies thinking they can just hire a “social media whizkid” and the business will start flowing overnight. I’ve definitely seen that happen. But I think people are very slowly starting to realize that marketing fundamentals are still critical.

  8. Seogeeker

    30. Mar, 2011

    Reaffirms my theory, do not pay for Social Media. Its Social you need to have something to say that people want to share! Nice article!

  9. @millionsofmyles

    30. Mar, 2011

    1. “Social media experts”.
    2. Social media experts who ask you tweet when they give a signal so they can demonstrate it’s power to clients.
    3. Social media experts who don’t know or disobey rules of the networks they are on. Eg Facebook competition rules.

  10. Benji

    31. Mar, 2011

    Have to make one comment because you made me read this blog… First off – good blog. However, “it is important to say that there is no right and wrong way to tweet” – According to this report that isn’t really the case -http://bit.ly/i2iVDm Journalists: 5 tweets guaranteed to get you fired

  11. hilzfuld

    31. Mar, 2011

    Thanks everyone for the comments.

    Benji, there is no right and wrong way to tweet just like there is right and wrong way to dance or sing. That doesn’t mean there are not some basic things you do not do under any circumstances.

    Calling yourself a social media expert on Twitter is like doing the Chicken Dance in a dance club :)

  12. Itamar Rogel

    02. Apr, 2011

    Thank you Hillel, an awesome and to-the-point post!

    Indeed, sometimes it seems companies mistake the word “social” in “social media” for some other word (magic?) ;-)

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