The Top 5 Marketing Mistakes on Twitter and How to Avoid Them

Learning the new marketing paradigm of Twitter can be a steep learning curve for many business owners. Author Lynn Serafinn shares ideas from her book Tweep-e-licious! that can help lighten the journey.

There is an old adage that warns us not to judge a book by its cover. Nonetheless, many people take a cursory look at the surface appearance of Twitter and draw a hasty conclusion that it is just a stream of one-liners and headlines with little substance. It is true that if marketers use Twitter only to send out headlines that take their followers to sales pages, they are unlikely to reap much reward for their efforts. But I know there is much more to Twitter. In fact, it is my favourite social media platform. But before we can unlock the magic of Twitter, we need to enter into a new paradigm of marketing strategies. Instead of “advertising”, we need compelling informational content. Instead of talking “at” customers and avoiding “competitors”, we need to learn new rules for communication and business relationships. The Twitterverse is a brave new world where “old school” marketing methodologies are, frankly, dead as a doornail.

The learning curve for any new paradigm can be steep for many. I’ve watched many newbies on Twitter stumble around and hit wall after wall while they find their feet. Helping people through that learning curve is the main reason why I wrote Tweep-e-licious. To give you a feel of this new paradigm, I thought it would be good to take a look at five key mistakes I’ve repeatedly seen people make when attempting to use Twitter for marketing:

  1. Not taking time to build your Twitter tribe
  2. Not understanding the mechanics of an online marketing campaign
  3. Not knowing how to recognise and leverage your “inner circle”
  4. Not having enough diversity in your Tweets
  5. Not understanding what motivates your followers

Let’s explore each of these briefly.

MISTAKE 1: Not taking time to build your Twitter tribe

In traditional advertising (like television, for example) communication flows in one direction: from “one” (sponsor) to “the many”. But social media is a completely different communication model. It is between “the many” and “the many”, and the flow of communication goes both back and forth, and even sideways (as when Tweets are shared/ReTweeted). Because of this, there is a dynamic relationship between you and your Twitter audience that cannot possibly develop if you use old school marketing strategies. This dynamic relationship is best expressed through what many call your “Twitter tribe”.

One way to describe a ‘tribe’ is a group of people connected by a common desire to express their shared values. Thus, a “tribe” is different from your “target audience”. If you are using Twitter solely to “sell” to people, you are neither connecting with them nor demonstrating any shared value system with them. For people to feel like they are part of your tribe, they need to know who you are, what you stand for and what you bring the world. For that reason, I spend at least several months (hopefully a year) helping my clients build their Twitter tribe before we ever think about launching a book or project. If you move too quickly into marketing without this kind of care, you are apt to fail and you are likely to quit using Twitter. In Tweep-e-licious, I cover the core strategies for finding, establishing and cultivating your relationship with your tribe.

MISTAKE 2: Not understanding the mechanics of an online marketing campaign

For any marketing strategy to be effective, it needs ample care and planning. But trying to run a major marketing campaign on your own on Twitter is tedious, and successful marketing on Twitter is always a collaborative effort. The most effective use of Twitter for marketing comes when you coordinate a Joint Venture Partner (JVP) Campaign. Your JVPs, who come from your “tribe”, are your marketing partners. They will need care, coordination and support well in advance of and throughout your promotion. Having a good team to support them behind the scenes is also important. When you utilise Twitter for marketing in this way, it can be a tremendous driver in your success. The majority of my clients come to my company because they know our team are good at coordinating all the “moving parts” of Twitter promotions.

MISTAKE 3: Not knowing how to recognise and leverage your “inner circle”

Many people come to Twitter with a polarised vision: they evaluate everyone as either a potential customer (or not) or as a competitor. As a result, they “chase” the potential customers and avoid the perceived competition. What this vision prevents them from seeing is the vast sea of potential marketing partners that are probably within one of these two camps. Your so-called “competitors” are frequently your best collaborators, primarily because you might share a common vision, a common business ethic AND a common audience. Many (if not nearly all) of my best marketing partners are either online marketing consultants, people who work with authors, or authors themselves. These people are my “inner circle”. The two biggest mistakes I could ever make would to a) avoid them or b) try to “sell” to them. These people are like gold dust to me and my business, and they should be to you too. Stop looking at people on Twitter as if they were in only two camps (to be sold to or avoided). Find your inner circle. Build partnerships. Help others to grow and they will help you grow too.

MISTAKE 4: Not having enough diversity in your Tweets

Most people tend to write far too few Tweets for their promotions. Typically, I’ll see half a dozen Tweets with little punch and no diversity. You might be surprised (or shocked) to know that when I run a promotion, I typically compose hundreds of Tweets for my partners to use. I recommend putting this kind of care into composing Tweets for any of your marketing campaigns for these reasons:

  • It increases the diversity of keywords, making them appear in more Twitter searches.
  • Too much repetition can cause your Tweets to be filtered from Twitter search results.
  • The diversity will appeal to different target audiences.
  • Having a wide selection of diverse Tweets encourages your marketing partners to Tweet more frequently.
  • It keeps your readers from getting bored or irritable due to being bombarded with the same thing over and over.

Making compelling and diverse Tweets is a vital part of your promotions. If you can’t imagine WHAT you could possibly say to fill a hundred or more Tweets, I recommend reading PART 6: Creating Effective Content in my book Tweep-e-licious for ideas and guidelines.

MISTAKE 5: Not understanding what motivates your followers

In Tweep-e-licious Tip 59, I talk about what I call the “Yeah…So What?” Test (YSW Test for short). The YSW Test is when you write a Tweet (or blog post or whatever) and ask yourself, “Yeah…So What?” before you send it to your audience. If nearly all your Tweets are about you and your company, they’ll fail this test. People will say to themselves, “Yeah, So what?” and not bother to click your link.

Supporting this idea is Tip 55: Give People What THEY Want, Not What You Want to Give Them. To write compelling Tweets, you have to understand the motivations of your followers. What are they looking for? Advice? Tips? Answers? To what? When you can answer these questions, you can see what would motivate them to click your link AND stay connected with you. While some people are motivated by regular information, others may seek community. Others may be motivated by “freebies” or bargains. All of these are legitimate doorways to connection , and your Tweets should be diverse enough to appeal to all these different motivators.

Closing Thoughts

For any of these strategies to work at all, your Tweets must fulfil the most important criterion of all—RELEVANCE. If your content is not relevant to your audience, it doesn’t matter what else you do. Perform due diligence in defining what kinds of people would find your work most relevant to THEIR needs, and then deliver diverse, compelling, relevant content that fulfils a variety of motivations. Combine this activity with the conscious cultivation of your partnerships and other online relationships, and with time you will see the richness of the Twitterverse emerge.

The ideas in this article were adapted from the section on “Crowd Funding” in my book Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically. Nearly 300 pages long, Tweep-e-licious is a substantive, practical manual of ethical marketing strategies for Twitter, from bare-bones basics to advanced user skills.

You can get instant access to my 90-minute #Tweepelicious audio class (and find out more about the book) at http://tweepelicious.com.

I hope this article has helped make your Twitter learning curve just a little less steep. If it has, please SHARE this article with your own Twitter followers.

And, as always, I’d love to read your feedback and comments below.

~Lynn Serafinn
5 February 2013


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of MarketingLYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

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Let the dialogue continue...

2 Responses to The Top 5 Marketing Mistakes on Twitter and How to Avoid Them

  1. Mr Uku says:

    Some great advice.
    It annoys me to see how some companies use Twitter. Many of them are terrified of linking to any website but there own which is what gives their tweets a very one dimensional and boring look. As does only ever talking about your company.
    Much better to talk about your niche because it’s that, rather than your company, that most people are interested in. Many will have never heard of your company and so will never seek you out.
    I always tell my clients that not every person who visits their blog will be a customer, but their presence is what will increase page rank and attract others who will become customers. I think a similar tactic needs to be used for Twitter.
    You also need to look at the Twitter account for BetFair Poker. I genuinely believe that account to be genius. Whoever runs it never mentions poker or betting at all. They have no links to anything. Instead, you get a constant stream of the most bizarre tweets, fiction, crab based monologues and other oddities.
    What does it have to do with betting or poker? Nothing. But all day long you’re looking out for that branded logo in your Twitter stream :)

  2. It all boils down to relevance and focus on the objective of the tweet. Simply posting for the sake of posting does nothing but create noise and if there is a potential tribe member out there in cyberspace, they will not find the real you because they won’t get the message!

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