People make judgements quickly – we’ve all heard the saying that a job interviewer has pretty much decided their opinion of you in the first thirty seconds. On social media sites, they make them even faster.

Here are our top 5 things you can do in a few seconds, to revolutionise the way people perceive you on Twitter.

 

One: Get rid of that TrueTwit application.

Someone notices you on Twitter, and they’re interested enough to hit the “follow” button on your profile. That’s a compliment, and potentially the start of a relationship with that person. If the “response” they then get from your account is a direct message like this:

what does that say to your potential new follower? “Being interested isn’t enough, I’m going to ask you to jump through a hoop for the privilege of having access to my tweets”.   It’s like walking up to someone in the pub and opening with “prove you’re not boring, or I’m not going to talk to you”. (Actually,  there are times when that would actually be quite productive – TrueTwit is less justifiable than that!).

There’s no reason in this universe or the next why you need to screen people who are following you. Yes, they might be bots (automated accounts) or otherwise unsavoury, but so what? Having them on your follow list does no harm, and you’ll never see anything they send out.

Using TrueTwit just screams “I don’t get this Twitter lark” and may well cost you potential good relationships, as people just unfollow rather than go through the validation process.

Two: Stay in the same Twitter timezone.

Twitter is a real time medium, and by its very nature things move fast. If you’re running a business Twitter account and someone messages you, they’re going to expect a response pretty soon – definitely within 24 hours.

Being on the Twitter satellite phone – where you respond three days later to a casual comment that the user has long since forgotten about – makes it look as though you’re not serious enough about your Twitter account to make regular time for it; and who wants to talk to someone who takes days to reply?

Three: Sending out “follow fridays”  for half your follower list.

For those not familiar, Follow Friday (#ff) is an old Twitter tradition meant to help people find interesting people to follow. Users recommend a  few folks who’ve been especially helpful or interesting that week, by sending out their @handle and the #ff hashtag.

Follow Friday is a great idea in principle, and we’re always flattered when we get a recommendation.  But all too often,  it is gets completely ruined by people using it as an attention-seeking or favour-returning tool rather than genuinely recommending excellent accounts. If you send out a #ff, you are saying to others “these accounts are what I think quality looks like on Twitter”. If they aren’t sending out interesting content, you waste your followers’ time, and increase the number of people who just ignore anything starting with that hashtag.

Worst of all are those sending out ten or more tweets filled with everyone they’ve spoken to in the last month, with no explanation or quality control. If you want to do a great Follow Friday, stick to one recommendation per tweet and explain to your followers WHY that account would be interesting / entertaining / useful to them. If you can’t do that, maybe you shouldn’t be recommending them.

Four: Begging for ReTweets and / or followers

Begging: Cute when he does it. Not when you do.

Another trick that just marks you out as a newbie and / or follower collector. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally asking people to ReTweet something you’ve sent out, especially if it’s a help request, special offer or something that particularly needs a wider audience.

But.

We’ve seen a growing number of accounts lately putting something like “if you like this, please RT it” on almost every tweet.  People know what to do. If they like the tweet, they will broadcast it. Keep the requests for special occasions, and you’ll probably find people much more ready to help – especially if you’ve helped them out with the odd Retweet too!

and finally…..

the Big Daddy Don’t of them all…

THE TWITTER AUTO RESPONDER.

You know what we’re talking about. You follow an account, and moments later the direct message arrives. “We’re delighted to meet you – come and find us on facebook / join our mailing list  / visit our website / download our unmissable White Paper here”.  If you’re using one of these messages, don’t finish reading the rest of this article. Run straight over to Tweetspinner or whatever dandy tool you’re using to replace actual effort, and SWITCH THE DAMN THING OFF RIGHT NOW.

Here’s the thing: nobody is fooled. All but the newest newbies know these messages are automated – the Twitter equivalent of an infuriating automated menu system on a phone line when you just want to speak to a receptionist. Receiving one of those messages is much less likely to have people running off to your Facebook page, and much more likely to be  thinking “Ah. So they know it’s nice to greet new followers, but they can’t be bothered to actually do it  – and are going to push marketing messages at me” and Unfollowing.

It’s a great idea to greet new followers – but do it personally and individually, via an @mention. And save your next request for later. Once you’ve developed more of a relationship, THEN they might feel inclined to check out your Facebook page.  Barking orders at stage one is going to get you nowhere.

 

Does this cover your biggest Twitter irritations, or are there other whoppers we’ve missed?