1. Don’t ignore the benefits of mapping out a content strategy before you start. Many businesses clearly have no direction, objectives, style and purpose on Twitter. If you really want to make it work for your company, you need to stop and think about all the above plus how Twitter integrates with your existing channels of communication.To-Donts-list
  2. Don’t get going on Twitter until you have done your research. It’s simple to set up a Twitter account and start tweeting about your business. But this approach will be the longer road to success. Instead, follow a few leading brands and competitors in your sector first. You can observe and learn a lot from them about what works and what doesn’t before you enter the fray yourself. Once you’re out there, retreat is rarely an effective option. Think before you tweet.
  3. Don’t feel you always have to answer Twitter’s question “What’s happening?” A minute by minute commentary of what IS actually happening in your business would be deathly. Vary your Twitter updates (tweets) by including repeats of other people’s tweets (re-tweets or RTs) and links to stuff you’ve seen or heard about that you believe will interest your followers. Which leads us on to…
  4. Don’t forget to make almost every Tweet valuable to others. Your business tweets should offer value and information in some shape or form. This could be some news particular to your company or sector, a link to an article, or simply an update about what you’re doing business-wise today. You should be allowed to include several simply personal Tweets too, as this way your followers will get to know (and hopefully respond to) the real person behind your company updates.So, don’t tweet about stuff that is not at all interesting to anyone but you. Twitter is not about me, me, me. Your customers really won’t care about what you had for breakfast (er…unless you’re a restaurant I suppose.) Also, those “Good morning Tweeps!” updates every day have to stop.
  5. Don’t Tweet too often (this divides opinion actually). It’s OK being enthusiastic (and let’s assume that all your tweets are reasonably interesting) but don’t overdo it. Whilst there’s no set rule for how often a normal business should tweet each day, my view is that anymore than 25 straight tweets is probably too many (that’s not including any replies to customers or comments on mentions by others). People might start to think you don’t actually run the business if you spend all day tweeting. Plus you can come across as hogging the conversation.
  6. Don’t continually sell yourself or your company. Twitter should not be used solely as a direct sales channel. It is NOT direct mail online. It’s astonishing how many businesses only ever use the medium for this purpose. It’s OK to drop in the odd sales push every now and then, but only after you’ve built a good following by using genuinely interesting content and developing some meaningful relationships with others. No hard sell all the time please!
  7. Don’t auto-respond. There are applications you can use that automatically send a corporate message of greeting to any Twitter user who follows you. Apparently, many business owners think this is a good idea, but I’ve yet to meet one. People know these auto-responses are exactly that – automatic. They can make your business look insincere and impersonal. And I don’t accept that the quality of the message can make auto-responding OK. Don’t do it – try having a genuinely personal dialogue instead.
  8. Don’t forget your manners. Twitter is a series of conversations. You might to try and start a few that nobody listens to, but that’s OK. But always be polite, respectful and kind. Try hard to involve others in your conversations (by using the @ sign followed by their Twitter name). Also – try to listen to what others are saying and join in constructively. Call me old fashioned, but there’s a lot to be said for showing humility, kindness and respect on Twitter – it normally gets a very warm reception. Never be needlessly rude on Twitter about anyone or anything and keep religion and politics off the agenda (er…unless you’re a church or a political party I guess…)
  9. Don’t Re-Tweet and not credit the original poster. Twitter is all about sharing information freely with others. Many times you’ll see a great tweet and think “I wish we’d said that!”, but don’t be tempted to pass anything off as your own. Bad form and flies in the face of what Twitter is supposed to be all about.
  10. Don’t use Twitter to deal with the sort of customer feedback you should deal with in person. For instance, if you run a hotel business, don’t tweet stuff like “”@unhappy_guest – that smell in your room wasn’t there b4 you checked in. Could it be your shoes?” Need I say more?
  11. And finally – please DON’T forget to follow me on Twitter!