How not to spam Twitter

Twitter served notice to spammers earlier this month that it’s beefing up its anti-spam measures, and it has filed a lawsuit against five “aggressive tool providers and spammers” to keep its feeds clean.

How can you keep your business off of Twitter’s radar while still conducting some form of commerce using the tool? These five tips can help.

1. Don’t mention people unless you’re talking to them

This is one of the spam moves that’s in Twitter’s crosshairs, and anyone with an account has likely been a target: A spammer throws in a link to a product along with a mention of your user name, which prompts you to read the tweet, since we’re all plugged into our Mentions like Pavlov’s dog. A business that seeks to address particular power users with a promotion may consider doing this. But if you really want to tell someone about a promotion who has previously demonstrated that they’re into your product, send them a direct message instead.

2. Don’t tweet all deals and promotions relentlessly

It’s easy to wear out Twitter followers by tweeting every single sale, promotion, or product that you offer. While you obviously have to do some of this, limit yourself to a few promotional tweets per day, and use the rest of your feed to interact with customers. Retweeting articles and blog posts that are relevant to your industry and responding to customer inquiries will put you in the sweet spot.

3. Stop using spammy Twitter tools

The tools that Twitter objected to enough to sue include TweetAttacks, TweetAdder, and TweetBuddy, which act as tweet spam broadcasters. It also took legal action against Adscend Networks, an ad network that Twitter alleges creates tweet spam. Unfortunately for these companies, the legal outcome doesn’t matter at this point; Twitter has judged them and will likely have an issue with any business using them. If you happen to use any of these services, you’d be wise to discontinue, at least for now. This may have you questioning the validity of other tools that you use with Twitter. As with any social media service, use your instincts. If it feels spammy, like a service that claims to net you 100,000 followers overnight, it probably is.

4. Keep sales language to a minimum

Those familiar with writing ads for Google AdWords know they can’t use terms like “best in the world” or “#1 top results” in their ads. While Twitter is unlikely to penalize you for using such terms that lack evidence to back up such claims, it sounds disingenuous and your followers won’t like it. If you win an award, shout it from the rooftops, but avoid cheesy sales lines that are more at home in a 1980s elevator pitch.

5. Report spam on Twitter and police yourself

Twitter implores its users to report spammers. While you don’t get any brownie points from Twitter for doing this, you do make Twitter a better virtual place to be. It’s also useful to use Twitter’s “What is Spam” guidelines as a yardstick to measure your behavior. Posting multiple duplicate updates, spamming trending topics, using multiple accounts to send the same message, and aggressive following behavior are official no-no’s. If multiple people handle your business Twitter account or you are outsourcing it to another business, make sure that they are trained on anti-spamming Twitter techniques.

Angela West has written for big insurance companies, small wildlife control businesses, gourmet food chains, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @angelawest and Facebook.

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