Twitter is perhaps the first social media network I joined when I started my company. And it remains my favorite. Twitter is finally becoming a mainstream network in India and brands are leveraging it in a big way. Small businesses like restaurants or specialty brands are following suit. Unfortunately, it is a suit that fits poorly.

While everyone wants to jump on the Twitter express, hardly anyone wants to pay for it.

And the results show.

We have ignorant, inexperienced new graduates or undergrads handling brand accounts, and going on a spamming frenzy. Being ignorant or lacking experience is fine – we all have to start somewhere after all – but rushing into Twitter without knowing some basics is suicide for a brand.

Every day, I am spammed with messages on Twitter by brands asking me to RT them, visit them, try their product and so on. This is the only time they engage with me, and they are clueless about why this is wrong.


Allow me to tell you some excellent ways in which a Twitter newbie can annoy people, and antagonize the very influencers they want to engage.

1. Skip the Twitter Bio

Why write a bio when you are as business or brand? People will jump at the chance to talk to you. Er, maybe not.

The Twitter bio may be short, but it is the brief introduction that tells people who you are and what you are there for. Skipping the bio is a sure way to encourage people to skip you.

One of my most popular Twitter posts shows you how to write an effective Twitter bio. There are hands on examples of how you can do it. Whether you read it or not, be sure to at least provide a cursory bio such as ‘organic food brand’ or ‘ dress designer in India’ etc.

2. Don’t Follow Anyone. Or Be Very Selective.

You don’t follow a single person, yet you feel entitled to ask people to follow you.

Why? There almost seems to be an urban legend when it comes to the whole Follow/ Not Follow decision among Desis. It seems very fashionable to be selective about who you follow or follow back on Twitter. And I fail to see what people gain from this ego trip.

Check accounts of top Forbes influencers like Kim Garst, Sean Gardner, Jeff Bullas etc. and you will see that they follow thousands of people. But check a few accounts of random folks in India and you will see they are very stingy with the follow backs.

Be positive, be proactive, and take the first step. It will help you build a community of friends.

Clicking ‘Follow’ on Twitter does not take away from your status in any way, trust me.

3. Use Profanity

Your timeline is littered with cuss words. You think swearing after every few words is the cool thing to do.

So you love to cuss and use bad language? Go into the woods and shout your heart out. Or lock yourself in a room and do it. Twitter is not the place for profanity, especially if you represent a brand or business. There may be extenuating circumstances, but resist with all your might.

Any shock appeal you get out of using ‘f’ words will be momentary. But you (or the brand you represent) will forever be branded as gauche or ill mannered.

4. Randomly @mention people you don’t know

You opened your Twitter account an hour ago. You follow zero people. You have 5 Tweets on your Timeline. And you address people randomly demanding things like ‘visit us and sample our pizza’ or whatever.

Engaging people on Twitter is not the problem. It is how you do it. If you gatecrash a party, walk up to a strange girl, and say let’s go have dinner, will she follow you? The answer is no.

Follow some big accounts to establish your interests. Could be a few news networks, film stars, sports personalities, or whatever you like. Twitter does ask you to do it while you are opening your account. Do not skip this step, please.

If you want to talk to someone on Twitter, get to know them first. Follow them, retweet them, comment on their Tweets, and then maybe you can ask them for something a few days later.

Hounding strangers and flooding them with senseless Spam will hurt your brand. Focus on results and long term impact rather than numbers.

Addressing a 100 people has no meaning if none of them respond.

5. Be Lazy and Skip the Research

Why take the time or trouble to research the person you want to reach? Just ask them obvious questions. So what if you could have learned that just by reading their bio or visiting their website.

Do your due diligence. It does not take more than 5 or 10 minutes to learn the location, occupation or interests of the person you want to approach. Sometimes they have informative websites with contact forms where you can send them a message. And many times they have clear guidelines on what kind of communication they will entertain from a brand.

I have lost count of the times I have been ‘invited’ to sample meat at restaurants, when anyone who takes two minutes to check my profile will know I am vegetarian.

6. Copy Paste Your Way to Glory

Why take the time to draft a new line for every person you are spamming? Just copy-paste it to a 100 random accounts. At least you will get bragging rights.

Since you are a Twitter newbie, you may forget that your Timeline is public. The moment I get a Spam message, I check the person who is sending it. And when I see that they are offering the same delicious pizza with loads of cheese to dozens of others, guess what I am going to do?

It takes two minutes to draft a simple line.

Unfortunately, many brands seem to be unaware of what is being done in their name.

At least I hope so, because the alternative is worse.

7. Play Favorites

Choose who you want to keep close. Think like Frank Underwood.

This is the darker side of social media no one will want to talk about. As a person, you may have likes and dislikes. But as a brand, being partial to a few and giving some the cold shoulder may not sit well. It is hard to realize that there is a ‘person’ behind a social media account who may have vested interests.

It is the brand image that suffers in such cases.

Brand behavior and ethics is something I want to address in another post.

So How Can You Ace Twitter?

I hope I have managed to make my point without being offensive to anyone. It is unfortunate that I regularly experience everything given above. And the worst fallback from it is that it is always the brand image that is tarnished in my mind.

That is because the actual person behind the account, their skills or ability (or lack thereof), personal preferences etc. are hidden from me.

All I can see is how the brand behaves on Twitter.

If you are new to Twitter, please take some time to learn the basic etiquette. And do the right thing even if everyone else around you is not!

If you are a brand, be more circumspect about who is handling your social media, and what is being done in your name. Does it fall in line with your reputation or your brand image?

So tell me, have you ever had any annoying experiences on Twitter? Please share them below and tell me how you handle them. And if you are on Twitter, please feel free to look me up @pragatibidkar.

Please Note: The Sub Headings given above tell you what not to do on Twitter