You know those messages on Twitter that promise to get you 50-100 followers per day. Most of us have been ignoring them since we signed up realizing that the quality of the follower is far more appealing than the quantity. But recently I received one message that for some unknown reason peaked my interest so I clicked on it to see what it was all about.

At the onset, and in my defense, I would like the record to show that I was tired and had likely spent too many hours working that day. This stands as my excuse for the poor judgment that followed. The site made some interesting claims about finding followers that matched my profile. All I had to do, it said was enter my account info and a complete report would be provided.

A report–sounded interesting and I wondered who might be on that list. So I entered my account info, pressed enter and immediately after the form went through, the voice of reason inside my head began to nervously whisper its concern.

Next thing I know I (the site I had been on) sent Tweets on my behalf that said that I recommend their site to find 100’s of followers per day. Wait, wait, wait– I didn’t, that’s not what I wanted, I was just curious. I just wanted the report!

I immediately deleted the first Tweet. Breathed a sigh of relief and thought okay, well at least I’m the only one that knows I did that. But before I could catch my breath, Tweetdeck lit up like a Christmas tree with mentions and DM’s regarding the follow me Tweet.

There I was, sitting in my living room, innocently working away and the next thing I know I’ve made a major Twitter misstep and I now have to explain in 140 characters my honest intentions and how they have gone completely sideways.

Building a random collection of followers using services like this is not a sound Twitter strategy for anyone whether an individual or company. Twitters ultimate benefit is made through the personal connections you create with followers based on commonality– which is what drew me to learn more about the service that site promised.  And like any relationship there needs to be value for both parties in the connection.

It’s as easy to misstep on social media as it is in real life. But sometimes, with social media, these missteps can be far reaching and take considerable time to correct. The best course of action here is to fess up, admit the mistake and warn others. So, in the spirit of good Twitter etiquette, here are 3 other Twitter missteps to avoid:

  1. When posting random thoughts such as “I’m so happy today” or “Getting coffee now” consider embellishing those sentiments or activities with the reason why you are happy, or where you are having coffee so that your post provides followers some added benefit or value. When you post something, ask yourself, would I leave this post on a friends’ voice mail? If not, then it’s probably not worth posting on Twitter.
  2. Don’t post if you don’t have anything of value to say. If you feel the need to Tweet, consider retweeting someone else’s post. This action is always viewed kindly by others. Building influence on Twitter is not accomplished by the quantity of your posts but by the quality.
  3. When posting, keep your brand values close by and measure your post against those very things you stand for. This will help prevent you from posting things that you might regret or that could harm your reputation. What you post can and will be seen by the masses. People do actually see and retain what you Tweet.

There are so many best practices regarding Twitter that briefing yourself on what they are will help you make better use of the platform. The bottom line is Twitter is not a toy. It’s a very serious and powerful marketing and communication tool. Whether you are savvy on Twitter or new to it, one mistake can lead to a great deal of time spent cleaning it up.

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