Twitter is a fantastic tool for business.

Since it began in 2006 it now has an average of 336 million monthly active users. It’s yet to become an ever-present app that most active smartphone users find completely indefensible and log into every month, but it’s one that cannot be ignored.

It’s a great way to connect with people and definitely worth using for most businesses.

But there are risks with using Twitter, as with any other social media platform. Use it incorrectly and not only does it become a wasted resource but it can backfire and negatively affect your brand.

For example, did you hear of American Apparel’s blunder in 2014? Apparently, a member of American Apparel’s social media team who wasn’t born in the US posted an image celebrating the Fourth of July. The image was of smoke from an explosion – which in fact was the iconic image of the Challenger explosion… there were understandably numerous responses of shock and disapproval. American Apparel removed the image and issued an apology, but there were still a number of negative responses from outraged Twitter users.

Here’s the lowdown on the top mistakes businesses can make when using Twitter:

  1. Pare back the promo – shameless self promotion is a real yawn! Talking a little about yourself is fine, but don’t forget that social media is about generating conversation, so don’t dominate the conversation. It’s called “social” media for a reason! We’ve all heard stories about going on a date where the other person talks constantly about themselves and doesn’t seem interested in the other person. Be that ideal social “date” and show interest, enjoy balanced conversation and add value.
  2. Please, please, please follow me… – we all want to build up our followers on Twitter. But begging for followers isn’t the way to go about it. You’ll come across as desperate and most likely annoy people. The best way to build your following is to do it the right way – post engaging content, follow people you’re interested in and use hashtags. Make your business one that people want to follow by showing your great personality, not begging for people to like you.
  3. Avoid the repeating repetition – don’t tweet exactly the same tweet a number of times or you’ll look like you’re spamming people. Of course people’s feeds are updating all the time and you don’t want your tweet to be missed. Some people retweet their stories multiple times during the day “for the morning crowd” or “for the evening crowd etc. But this can become annoying – remember it’s all about the balance. Two or three times for the same tweet is probably enough. It’s fine to tweet about the same thing a number of times but mix up the content to keep it engaging.
  4. Slash the hashtags – we’ve all seen those tweets: a small phrase followed by a ton of hashtags. This is a big no no! Too many hashtags are annoying and will only result in your tweet going unread. Hone them down and add two or three to the end of the tweet, so that the actual content can be read easily.
  5. Going on for too long…- another yawn! Yes there is now a marvellous 280 character length limit for a tweet (extended from the 140 limit earlier this year) but that’s not to say you need to tweet 280 characters in every tweet! Keep it varied to maintain interest – and allow others the space to insert their own quote when they retweet.
  6. Retweeting.. yourself! – this is another of those etiquette points – it’s like a comedian laughing at their own jokes! You don’t want to appear self-indulgent but it can save time when you want to get your news across again. Best advice is to think very carefully and use sparingly!
  7. Take note of your Twitter handle – is you’re a small business running your Twitter account and you have your own personal one too…. beware! It’s likely you’ll have quite different things to say on each of them so before you send that tweet, check it’s being sent from the right one.
  8. Dipping in and out – consistency is key. It looks pretty shameless if you’re absent from Twitter most of the time until you have something you’d like to promote about your own business. You need to be posting fairly frequently (at least 3-4 times a week, but preferably daily) to ensure you have a presence.
  9. Where are you @ – take care where you place the @ symbol within your tweet. At the beginning of the tweet it means only that person with the relevant handle and your existing followers will see the tweet. If you want to begin the tweet with the @, then putting a “.” before it will mean it’s seen by the full potential audience.
  10. Shorten your links – this is a really useful tip. Instead of pasting a full URL when you’re linking to a page on a website, which takes up some serious space within the tweet, use link shorteners like or It’ll make your tweet easier to read, look neater and give people space to be able to quote when they retweet.