A Look at the Most Annoying Twitter Marketing Approaches (and How to Avoid Them)

What’s the most annoying ‘growth hack’ that you see on Twitter? Overuse of hashtags? Directly asking for likes and retweets? Profiles noting that they ‘follow back’?

We recently put the question to the SMT community to glean some more insight into what bothers social media marketers the most in this respect.

Ah yes, the old hashtag every other word trick.

See, the thing is, hashtags connect users to a broader conversation, so hashtagging random words really doesn’t help. Because nobody’s searching through Twitter and thinking ‘hey, I wonder what people are discussing on the #morning hashtag’.

Not only is nobody searching these vague, broad match hashtags, but they’re very unlikely to want to engage with your unrelated tweets as a result. But then again, people have been misusing hashtags since the beginning of the social media era, so they’re probably not going to change their approach now either.

But for those who are guilty of this, here’s what you should do:

  1. In order to get a sense of the most popular hashtags for your posts, you need to do some research, both on the tags being used by your target audience, industry-related tags, competitors, etc. Twitonomy can provide you with insights into the hashtags most commonly used by any profile, helping to build your insight on this element
  2. Once you have a list of the most common tags, run them through an app like Hashtagify, which will provide further insight into how popular each tag is more broadly, along with the tags commonly used in relation to the source, example tweets, etc.
  3. With the addition of related tags, you can then put a listing together of the most popular tags based on overall usage. This isn’t necessarily the list you’ll want to use (as you may be going for niche discussions), but it gives you more info on which hashtags are gaining traction
  4. For more current, trending tags, you can use a tool like Twitter Trends, which allows you to drill down on real-time trends by region
  5. Examine tag use, eliminate those that are filled with unrelated chatter, and hone in on the ones that truly relate to your business, and are more likely to be used by your target audience

It also depends on your focus – Twitter itself advises that if you’re trying to get people to click on a CTA in a tweet, that adding any hashtags at all can dilute your messaging by giving your audience an alternative to click on. If you want to drive traffic towards a specific action, it may be better to leave out hashtags entirely in order to further highlight that element.

But don’t just hashtag random words. It’s doesn’t work, and as these insights show, people don’t like seeing it.

Follow-for-follow comes in second, and has become a more desperate looking approach over time. Automated DMs have always been a no-no (and I’m yet to see anyone who’s used this approach effectively on Twitter), while trying to latch onto unrelated trends can also look cheap and tacky, unless you can do it well.

Which basically means not trying to latch onto totally off-topic discussions. If you can come up with a great, brand-related take on a trend, like Oreo’s ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet at the 2013 Super Bowl, that can work in your favor. But it needs to be tactical, and clever to resonate.

Being clever isn’t always easy – for every Wendy’s Twitter account, winning over audiences with sass and wit, there are many more that are trying and flaming out, or worse, offending people with their ill-planned responses.

Really, being good at Twitter isn’t easy, but hopefully these notes will help you avoid some of the more common missteps and annoyances that users see.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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