12 Common Twitter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

5 min read
How To's, Social Media Marketing
By: Maddy Osman

It’s been over a year since I’ve written about 8 mistakes that make you look like an idiot on LinkedIn for Brent Jones. As such, it seems like we’re past due for a similar tough love lesson for Twitter, and a discussion about the most common Twitter mistakes.

Most people find themselves perplexed by Twitter, and they just decide to ignore it completely. But for B2C and especially B2B companies, being active on Twitter means an additional channel to engage with prospects and customers. Twitter is a place for two-way conversations, which means that it has its own rules for proper etiquette and self-promotion. If you haven’t been a consistent Twitter user, you may not know these rules.

Regardless of if you’re an individual or brand, here are 12 common Twitter mistakes… and how to avoid them.

Auto Direct Message (DM)

Sometimes I look at someone’s profile on Twitter and just know that if I decide to follow them, I’ll be the victim of their generic and overly salesy auto DM. I understand the psychology behind it – people want to get their message out to as many people as possible, especially those who’ve expressed an interest in them (in the form of a follow).

But the obvious auto DM (and trust me, they’re all obvious) comes across as inauthentic. If someone seems like a prospect or you just want to get to know them better – start up a natural conversation! I promise it will convert better, with higher quality prospects.

Auto Comment

Auto responses are more of a problem on Instagram than Twitter, but they’re worth mentioning all the same.  When you comment “Nice!” on a picture that’s me at someone’s funeral… you’ve lost me as a potential follower, and you’ve also lost my respect as an industry professional.

It may seem tempting to create generic post comments, but I promise you that they will backfire at some point. Instead, spend time targeting certain relevant hashtags with thoughtful messages – they will convert into new followers and potential sales at a much larger rate.

Auto Follow (and Unfollow)

There are people on Twitter and Instagram that use bots to follow and unfollow accounts at a rapid rate, hoping to grow their following and maintain a ratio that makes them appear as thought leaders. Unfortunately for them, these bots tend to go in a loop – following and unfollowing the same people to the point where it becomes obvious the activity is coming from a bot. Like the auto commenters, this lazy and deceptive follower growth tactic might work with some people, but it really infuriates me.

I think it’s important to add that although I’m quick to come down on most automated Twitter activities, I’m actually a fan of auto-liking certain hashtags and using certain hashtags to automatically add people to lists. Sure, some people have called me out on it, but it’s been 99% a great tool for building my following!

No Bio

Some people don’t realize that a lack of completing information is one of the most common Twitter mistakes. When I’m deciding who to follow or follow back, the first thing I look at is their bio. A bio should communicate:


This call to action may urge people to get in touch with you, visit your website, or just follow you!

No Website

You may not have a website, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use this field on your Twitter profile. Before making one of these common Twitter mistakes, at least put in a link to your LinkedIn profile. If you’re a writer, link to your author page for your most relevant client. Alternatively, put in a link for your company – they’ll appreciate the referral traffic!

No Profile Picture

An egg profile picture on Twitter is a tell-tale sign that you have no idea what you’re doing, and that you’re probably not a person worth engaging with. Make sure that you have a profile picture, even its a silly picture with friends. Camera shy? Get someone on Fiverr to create a cartoon icon. Or use the professional headshot you have up on LinkedIn. There are so many different ways to go about it that there’s no excuse not to have one.

Another less common Twitter mistake, but completely missed opportunity? Not customizing your cover photo. I use my Twitter cover photo to drive more traffic to my website and talk about the main services I offer.

Not Responding to People

Many people take to Twitter to complain, which can annoying for brands, but a great way to get attention from the customer’s standpoint. As such, it’s important that no matter who initiates conversation with you, you reply. Engaging in conversation creates goodwill – and new connections! By acknowledging someone, you have the chance to turn them from a hater into a loyal customer.

Sharing Posts Directly from Instagram

I’m all about saving time where it makes sense, but sharing posts directly from Instagram is not advised. Twitter displays them as a link – not an embedded photo. To get around this awkward wasted opportunity, opt for an IFTTT recipe that allows you to post Instagram photos to Twitter as native photos (not a link!) when you use a certain trigger hashtag (like #twitter, but you can make it whatever you want).

Only Talking About Yourself

See also “being overly salesy.” This common Twitter mistake is not a good look. Instead of pushing yourself or your product and hoping for the best, curate content that makes your profile a resource for people in your industry. In the same vein, make sure you’re not just retweeting other people’s content – throw in some original thoughts here and there!

Not Using Hashtags

It almost doesn’t matter how many followers you have – if you’re not using hashtags, your tweets are unlikely to be found. Rise above common Twitter mistakes relating to hashtags by adding 1-2 hashtags to each post – just don’t overdo it! 3+ hashtags are considered to be spammy and overly promotional.

Being Inconsistent

Just like any other social network, the more consistent you are with it, the more engaged your following will be (and the more likely you are to grow it). Once you get in the groove of using Twitter – keep it up. Consistently post updates without taking too long of a break between them.

Claiming to Be the Best

Look, just because your mom says you’re special doesn’t mean that you can put “the best at [whatever it is you do]” in your Twitter bio. Same goes for [industry] ninja or guru. Just don’t do it. It’s tacky and I refuse to follow you if you do it (as will many others).

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Final Thoughts: 12 Common Twitter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Twitter isn’t as hard to understand as you might think! But it’s essential to understand how to set up your profile and communicate with other users to avoid these common Twitter mistakes.

What are some of the common Twitter mistakes you’ve noticed and been turned off by? Let’s work to build a better Twitter experience by calling out bad practices in the comments below!

And if you need help with Twitter, or your social media strategy as a whole, learn more about my process and let’s get in touch!

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Maddy Osman

The Blogsmith

Maddy Osman is the author of Writing for Humans and Robots: The New Rules of Content Style. She's a digital native with a decade-long devotion to creating engaging, accessible, and relevant content. Her efforts have earned her a spot in BuzzSumo’s Top 100 Content Marketers and The Write Life’s 100 Best Websites for Writers. She has spoken for audiences at WordCamp US, SearchCon, and Denver Startup Week.

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I totally agree that if you are desperately trying to prove that you’re an expert, you’re probably not. Spend more time building your expertise and get people to talk ABOUT you – a much better way to prove yourself in your industry.


Hey Maddy,

Love the topic of this post.

That last point might be my favorite… when I see “expert” in someone’s Twitter bio, it’s generally a deterrent to following that person.

Some people are experts. For instance, people who work in forensics — like ballistics or blood spatter — could be considered experts in their fields.

Y’know, people who have invested time and money to receive some type of formal training and credentials might be considered experts, sure… especially after they apply that education and gain tens of thousands of hours of real life experience.

But Joe Schmo with 1,200 followers and a dream isn’t entitled to label himself a Twitter “expert”… unless, of course, he actually went to Harvard and studied Twitterology.

Experts, gurus, ninjas, thought leaders… inauthentic jerks. Almost all of them. If you have to tell people how good you are in your Twitter bio, you’re probably not as great as you think you are.

(Truth hurts sometimes…)